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THE LOWEST PLACE

Summer or Winter for aught I can say ;
So unrecorded did it slip away,

So blind was I to see and to foresee,
So dull to mark the budding of my tree
That would not blossom yet for many a
May.

If only I could recollect it, such

A day of days! I let it come and go ΙΟ As traceless as a thaw of bygone snow; It seemed to mean so little, meant so much; If only now I could recall that touch,

First touch of hand in hand - Did one but know!

REMEMBER

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the
hand,

Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more, day by day,
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

REST

O Earth, lie heavily upon her eyes;

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Seal her sweet eyes weary of watching, Earth;

Lie close around her; leave no room for mirth

With its harsh laughter, nor for sound of sighs.

She hath no questions, she hath no replies, Hushed in and curtained with a blessèd dearth

Of all that irked her from the hour of birth; With stillness that is almost Paradise. Darkness more clear than noonday holdeth her,

ΙΟ

Silence more musical than any song; Even her very heart has ceased to stir: Until the morning of Eternity Her rest shall not begin nor end, but be; And when she wakes she will not think it long.

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What, then, did Flaubert1 understand by beauty, in the art he pursued with so much fervour, with so much self-command? Let us hear a sympathetic commentator:

"Possessed of an absolute belief that there exists but one way of expressing one thing, one word to call it by, one adjective to qualify, one verb to animate it, he gave himself to superhuman labour for the discovery, in every phrase, of that word, that verb, that epithet. In this way, he believed in some mysterious harmony of expression, and when a true word seemed to him to lack euphony still went on seeking another, with invincible patience, certain that he had not yet got hold of the unique word. . . . A thousand preoccupations

1 Gustave Flaubert (1821-80), a French novelist, noted for his ideas on the art of writing.

would beset him at the same moment, always with this desperate certitude fixed in his spirit: Among all the expressions in the world, all forms and turns of expression, there is but one one form, one mode to express what I want to say."

The one word for the one thing, the one thought, amid the multitude of words, terms, that might just do: the problem of style was there! the unique word, phrase, sentence, paragraph, essay, or song, absolutely proper to the single mental presentation or vision within. In that perfect justice, over and above the many contingent and removable beauties with which beautiful style may charm us, but which it can exist without, independent of them yet dexterously availing itself of them, omnipresent in good work, in function at every point, from single epithets to the rhythm of a whole book, lay the specific, indispensable, very intellectual, beauty of literature, the possibility of which constitutes it a fine art.

One seems to detect the influence of a philosophic idea there, the idea of a natural economy, of some preexistent adaptation, between a relative, somewhere in the world of thought, and its correlative, somewhere in the world of language both alike, rather, somewhere in the mind of the artist, desiderative, expectant, inventive-meeting each other with the readiness of "soul and body reunited," in Blake's' rapturous design; and, in fact, Flaubert was fond of giving his theory philosophical expression.

"There are no beautiful thoughts," he would say, "without beautiful forms, and conversely. As it is impossible to extract from a physical body the qualities which really constitute it colour, extension, and the like without reducing it to a hollow abstraction, in a word, without destroying it; just so it is impossible to detach the form from the idea, for the idea only exists by virtue of the form."

All the recognised flowers, the removable ornaments of literature (including harmony and ease in reading aloud, very carefully considered by him) counted certainly; for these too are part of the actual value of what one says. But still, after all, with Flaubert, the search, the unwearied research, was not for the smooth, or winsome, or forcible word, as

1 William Blake, poet and engraver

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