And I was waked by some one singing; I felt very happy; I felt young again; I had fair delicate raiment on, my sword was gone, and my armour; I tried to think where I was, and could not for my happiness; I tried to listen to the words of the song. Nothing, only an old echo in my ears, only all manner of strange scenes from my wretched past life before my eyes in a dim, far-off manner: then at last, slowly, without effort, I heard what she sang.
“Christ keep the Hollow Land
All the summer-tide;
Still we cannot understand
Where the waters glide;
Only dimly seeing them
Coldly slipping through
Many green-lipp’d cavern mouths.
Where the hills are blue.”
“Then,” she said, “come now and look for it, love, a hollow city in the Hollow Land.”
I kissed Margaret, and we went.
Through the golden streets under the purple shadows of the houses we went, and the slow fanning backward and forward of the many-coloured banners cooled us: we two alone: there was no one with us. No soul will ever be able to tell what we said, how we looked.
At last we came to a fair palace, cloistered off in the old time, before the city grew golden from the din and hubbub of traffic; those who dwelt there in the old ungolden times had had their own joys, their own sorrows, apart from the joys and sorrows of the multitude: so, in like manner, was it now cloistered off from the eager leaning and brotherhood of the golden dwellings: so now it had its own gaiety, its own solemnity, apart from theirs; unchanged, and changeable, were its marble walls, whatever else changed about it.
We stopped before the gates and trembled, and clasped each other closer; for there among the marble leafage and tendrils that were round and under and over the archway that held the golden valves were wrought two figures of a man and woman winged and garlanded, whose raiment flashed with stars; and their faces were like faces we had seen or half seen in some dream long and long and long ago so that we trembled with awe and delight; and turned, and seeing Margaret, saw that her face was that face seen or half seen long and long and long ago; and in the shining of her eyes I saw that other face, seen in that way and no other long and long and long ago — my face.
And then we walked together toward the golden gates, and opened them, and no man gainsaid us.
And before us lay a great space of flowers.
This web edition published by:
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University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:11