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The-Austria-countryside—Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.

         —T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

When you were in the dark forest—transported, sightless,
fevered by fragrance and joy,
and home, the Stone, called you
to dim lights and literary dreams,
the unsaid flowed between us
stirred by a warm balsam of memories so precious
one must keep them vague,
and by a rapture so violent
it must be domesticated
You said: let’s not leave this cold castle
as you pointed around to things, on walls on mantles, saying:
These were born of pure utilitarian need, a function—that’s all, you know
and this is how I came to understand that Imagination is man’s only natural state,
and Beauty his revenge for The Fall.
Our spectral evenings: a Holbein jigsaw as it rained and rained;
details about Cranach and Dürer, too
Artists do not “develop”! you thundered,
then looking up, you smiled, and said:
The Truth, my dear, does not set one free—my God, how they’ve lied to us…
nothing imprisons a man more; nothing makes him retreat further into himself
So let’s not leave this cold castle
That tapestry you think so beautiful?—purely to keep out the cold, the damp. Nothing more.
The Stone is old, and every monarchy was born poor.
So we stayed on—soft lights and literary dreams,
(I like best that part of the tower almost destroyed by the Turks),
knowing that in weeks we’d scale a nearby mountain to see the noble-white flower
famed in this land,
starry, lonely, and rare;
the venerated mountain-woods flower of the most inaccessible cliffs,
and of the collars of the emperor’s best men, his lost men;
that takes root as earth has frozen over,
and, too, blossoms in the cold.

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Published: Jan 28, 2015
Marcia Christoff-Kurapovna
Marcia Christoff-Kurapovna in a Senior Contributor to The Imaginative Conservative. She lives between Vienna, Austria and Washington, D.C., and has been a contributor to The Wall Street Journal Europe, The International Herald Tribune, The Economist and The Christian Science Monitor, among other publications. Ms. Christoff-Kurapovna's first book, Shadows on the Mountain, a non-fiction history of intelligence operations in World War II Yugoslavia, was published by John Wiley & Sons, New York, in 2009. In early 2018, her first novel, The Last Will and Testament of Western Man, will be published. She writes a column for the Mises Institute, "Swiss Watch," and currently works as an advisor on and analyst of the fine arts market and European Old Masters. Visit her website.
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2 replies to this post
  1. Imagination is indeed man’s only natural state, as Hubertus’s stag keeps insisting! Now to read it a few more times! Many thanks!

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