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The Inner Beauty   By: (1862-1949)

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The Inner Beauty


Maurice Maeterlinck

[Illustration: Decoration]

New York

A. L. Chatterton Company


Nothing in the whole world is so athirst for beauty as the soul, nor is there anything to which beauty clings so readily.

There is nothing in the world capable of such spontaneous uplifting, of such speedy ennoblement; nothing that offers more scrupulous obedience to the pure and noble commands it receives.

There is nothing in the world that yields deeper submission to the empire of a thought that is loftier than other thoughts. And on this earth of ours there are but few souls that can withstand the dominion of the soul that has suffered itself to become beautiful.

In all truth might it be said that beauty is the unique aliment of our soul, for in all places does it search for beauty, and it perishes not of hunger even in the most degraded of lives. For indeed nothing of beauty can pass by and be altogether unperceived. Perhaps does it never pass by save only in our unconsciousness, but its action is no less puissant in gloom of night than by light of day; the joy it procures may be less tangible, but other difference there is none.

Look at the most ordinary of men, at a time when a little beauty has contrived to steal into their darkness. They have come together, it matters not where, and for no special reason; but no sooner are they assembled than their very first thought would seem to be to close the great doors of life. Yet has each one of them, when alone, more than once lived in accord with his soul. He has loved perhaps, of a surety he has suffered. Inevitably must he, too, have heard the sounds that come from the distant country of Splendor and Terror, and many an evening has he bowed down in silence before laws that are deeper than the sea. And yet when these men are assembled it is with the basest of things that they love to debauch themselves. They have a strange indescribable fear of beauty, and as their number increases so does this fear become greater, resembling indeed their dread of silence or of a verity that is too pure. And so true is this that, were one of them to have done something heroic in the course of the day, he would ascribe wretched motives to his conduct, thereby endeavoring to find excuses for it, and these motives would lie readily to his hand in that lower region where he and his fellows were assembled.

And yet listen: a proud and lofty word has been spoken, a word that has in a measure undammed the springs of life. For one instant has a soul dared to reveal itself, even such as it is in love and sorrow, such as it is in face of death and in the solitude that dwells around the stars of night. Disquiet prevails, on some faces there is astonishment, others smile. But have you never felt at moments such as those how unanimous is the fervor wherewith every soul admires, and how unspeakably even the very feeblest, from the remotest depths of its dungeon, approves the word it has recognized as akin to itself? For they have all suddenly sprung to life again in the primitive and normal atmosphere that is their own; and could you but hearken with angels' ears, I doubt not but you would hear mightiest applause in that kingdom of amazing radiance wherein the souls do dwell.

Do you not think that even the most timid of them would take courage unto themselves were but similar words to be spoken every evening? Do you not think that men would live purer lives? And yet though the word come not again, still will something momentous have happened, that must leave still more momentous trace behind. Every evening will its sisters recognize the soul that pronounced the word, and henceforth, be the conversation never so trivial, its mere presence will, I know not how, add thereto something of majesty. Whatever else betide, there has been a change that we cannot determine. No longer will such absolute power be vested in the baser side of things, and henceforth, even the most terror stricken of souls will know that there is somewhere a place of refuge... Continue reading book >>

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