The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories
In Memoriam Olivia Susan Clemens
Died August 18, 1896; Aged 24
In a fair valley--oh, how long ago, how long ago!--
Where all the broad expanse was clothed in vines,
And fruitful fields and meadows starred with flowers,
And clear streams wandered at their idle will;
And still lakes slept, their burnished surfaces
A dream of painted clouds, and soft airs
Went whispering with odorous breath,
And all was peace--in that fair vale,
Shut from the troubled world, a nameless hamlet drowsed.
Hard by, apart, a temple stood;
And strangers from the outer world
Passing, noted it with tired eyes,
And seeing, saw it not:
A glimpse of its fair form--an answering momentary thrill--
And they passed on, careless and unaware.
They could not know the cunning of its make;
They could not know the secret shut up in its heart;
Only the dwellers of the hamlet knew;
They knew that what seemed brass was gold;
What marble seemed, was ivory;
The glories that enriched the milky surfaces--
The trailing vines, and interwoven flowers,
And tropic birds a-wing, clothed all in tinted fires--
They knew for what they were, not what they seemed:
Encrustings all of gems, not perishable splendours of the brush.
They knew the secret spot where one must stand--
They knew the surest hour, the proper slant of sun--
To gather in, unmarred, undimmed,
The vision of the fane in all its fairy grace,
A fainting dream against the opal sky.
And more than this. They knew
That in the temple's inmost place a spirit dwelt,
Made all of light!
For glimpses of it they had caught
Beyond the curtains when the priests
That served the altar came and went.