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The Forgotten Threshold   By: (1890-1941)

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A Journal of Arthur Middleton




Before Arthur Middleton died he gave me this record among others in the belief that it would help to tell me what he had always known in the silences, yet could never in life transmute into the friendly counters of speech. During the last years of his all too brief experience of his friends, more than once he shyly sought to tell what he knew, yet always silence claimed him, and nothing but the wonder of his eyes revealed the dream that consumed his heart. Because beauty claims these words in a deeper knowledge than we had before, I have transcribed this fragment of them here, confident that in these white intuitions of his youth there is a revelation of the Light behind beauty beyond our poor knowledge and still poorer faith. I have omitted only what was most sacred to the privacies of his heart and our affection. He was of the old faith and would have wished had he published these pages to have expressed his entire and passionate loyalty to the Roman Catholic Church in faith and deed, and to have disclaimed any word therein which conflicted with the intimacies of its truth. I can do no more than to echo his wish, and mourn the unhappy chance which took him from us on an April tide, though it befell on the Easter that he loved and at that hour when the flaming symbol of the Divine Sacrifice was setting in the west. So the passion of the sun and tide which reflected his belief witnessed the consummation of his great desire. THE EDITOR.



(N.B. On the opening pages of the blank book in which this journal is contained there is a short fragment which bears no relation that I can discover to the entries that follow, and I am inclined to believe that it is the beginning of an autobiography which Middleton never continued. In my uncertainty, however, I print it, and accordingly it is transcribed below. THE EDITOR.)

Fragment . I was not more than three years old when the sunlight first made me happy as it stole through the curtains and over the coverlet till it kissed my lips and wrapped me in its warm embrace. Then I would fall asleep again and my dreams, if I dreamed at all, were white and faintly stirred me to a smile. I never tried to catch the sunbeams, for I felt their gold in my heart, nor could they have been nearer than they were, being associated with my mother's watchfulness as she stole in to smile upon my slumbers and claim the second silent unconscious kiss. On Sunday morning they would be freighted with a quiet whiter light, more peaceful and hushed to the feeling of the day, and somehow the peace was guarded with finger on lip throughout the house, so that it was implicit in my nest of images long before reason took note of it or sought to explain it to my consciousness. Once again as a boy of fifteen I knew it with a catch of delighted and almost tearful surprise when I stroked the breast of a wounded pigeon who found shelter in my room. The world is not as quiet in these days, nor is the hum of traffic in the mart attuned so kindly to the flow of light as when it ran so gently by the bedside of the dreaming boy. ...

(The journal now follows, written in a small cramped hand, without paragraphing or division. I omit the first few entries as purely personal. Middleton had gone to a group of remote western islands, and these notes are the fruit of his sojourn there.) THE EDITOR.

July 5.

Yesterday found me on the island with its silences, and last night the host was red and sacrificial and rode on a thunder cloud. This afternoon the planets go singing through my flesh and my song of praise has widened to the arches of the sun. The sea is moaning slowly on the sand. I stripped to the cool salt air for the first time. ... Walking I found my way out on the long gray dunes.

July 6.

On the dunes today with my mother. My hand swept idly over the soft white sand, shifting the order of many thousands of starry worlds... Continue reading book >>

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