Dream Tales and Prose Poems/Poems in Prose/A Visit

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I was sitting at the open window . . . in the morning, the early morning of the first of May.

The dawn had not yet begun; but already the dark, warm night grew pale and chill at its approach.

No mist had risen, no breeze was astir, all was colourless and still . . . but the nearness of the awakening could be felt, and the rarer air smelt keen and moist with dew.

Suddenly, at the open window, with a light whirr and rustle, a great bird flew into my room.

I started, looked closely at it. . . . It was not a bird; it was a tiny winged woman, dressed in a narrow long robe flowing to her feet.

She was grey all over, the colour of mother-of-pearl; only the inner side of her wings glowed with the tender flush of an opening rose; a wreath of valley lilies entwined the scattered curls upon her little round head; and, like a butterfly's feelers, two peacock feathers waved drolly above her lovely rounded brow. She fluttered twice about the ceiling; her tiny face was laughing; laughing, too, were her great, clear, black eyes.

The gay frolic of her sportive flight set them flashing like diamonds.

She held in her hand the long stalk of a flower of the steppes—'the Tsar's sceptre,' the Russians call it—it is really like a sceptre.

Flying rapidly above me, she touched my head with the flower.

I rushed towards her. . . . But already she had fluttered out of window, and darted away. . . .

In the garden, in a thicket of lilac bushes, a wood-dove greeted her with its first morning warble . . . and where she vanished, the milk-white sky flushed a soft pink.

I know thee. Goddess of Fantasy! Thou didst pay me a random visit by the way; thou hast flown on to the young poets.

О Poesy! Youth! Virginal beauty of woman! Thou couldst shine for me but for a moment, in the early dawn of early spring!

May 1878.