- "Flower-like and shy
- You stand, sweet mortal, at the river's brim:
- With what unconscious grace
- Your limbs to some strange law surrendering
- Which lifts you clear of our humanity!
- Now would I sacrifice
- Your breathing, warmth, and all the strange romance
- Of living to a moment! Ere you break
- The greater thing than you, I would my eyes
- Were basilisk to turn you to a stone.
- So should you be the world's inheritance,
- And souls of unborn men should draw their breath
- From mortal you, immortalised in Death."
Human beauty, that "greater thing than you," haunts mankind. Its complex attraction maddens not only saints and artists but every honest heart. To arrest it, to keep it steadily in view is our greatest need, yet like the wind it is here and is gone. Having moved men like a hurricane to prove by devastation that their race or their religion is its chosen vehicle, it will be content to fondle a child with caressing indulgence, turning her self-will "to favour and to prettiness." Generations have sought to mew it in a sentence, to immortalise it as the memory of a man or the record of a god's visit. Some have claimed that only perfect form could express it, while others find eloquent a "visage more marred than that of any man," capable of suffering a greater persecution than any other creature. The notion that this revelation may wholly possess one of ourselves, one who may stand emptied of it like a vacant house an hour hence, is old and beautiful. Yes, one lovely moment of a
- "Gloucestershire Friends. By Lieutenant F. W. Harvey. Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd. 2s. 6d. Quotations by permission of Mrs Harvey and of Bishop Frodsham.