Behind, the land rises in a high sweep

It was another world the world of the cagle the world of fierce ab-straction. It was all clear, overwhelming sunshine, a platform hung in theght. Just below were the confused, tiled roofs of the village, and bevondthem the pale blue water, down below; and opposite, opposite my faceand breast, the clear, luminous snow of the mountain across the lakelevel with me apparently, though really much aboveI was in the skies now, looking down from my square terrace ofcobbled pavement, that was won like the threshold of the ancientchurch. Round the terrace ran a low, broad wall, the coping of the uppeheaven where lhad climbedThere was a blood-red sail like a butterfly breathing down on the bluewater whilst the carth on the near side gave off a grecn-silver smoke ofolive trees, coming up and around the carth-coloured roofsIt always remains to me that San Tommaso and its terrace hang sus-pended abote the village, like the lowest step of heaven, of Jacobs ladder. Behind, the land rises in a high sweep. But the terrace of San Tom-maso is let down from heaven, and does not touch the earth.I went into the church. It was very dark, and impregnated with centur-ies of incense. It affected me like the lair of some cnormous creature. Mysenses were roused, they sprang awake in the hot, spiced darkness. Myskin was expectant, as if it expected some contact, some embrace, as if itwere aware of the contiguity of the physical world, the physical contactwith the darkness and the heavv, suggestive substance of the enclosure.It was a thick, fierce darkness of the senses. But mv soul shrank.I went out again. The pavemented threshold was clear as a jewel, themarvellous clarity of sunshine that becomes blue in the height seemed todistil me into itselfAcross, the heavy mountain crouched along the side of the lake, theupper half brilliantly white, belonging to the sky, the lower half dark andgrim. So, then, that is where heaven and earth are divided From behindme, on the left, the headland swept down out of a great, pale-grey, aridheight, through a rush of russet and crimson, to the olive smoke and thewater of the level carth. And between, like a blade of the sky cleaving thecarth asunder, went the pale-blue lake, cleaving mountain from moun-tain with the triumph of the skyThen I noticed that a big, blue-checked cloth was spread on the parapet before me, over the parapet of heaven. I wondered why it hungthere

thar ning round, on the other side of the terrace, under a caper-bushhung like a blood-stain from the grey wall abote her, stood a littlegrey woman whose fingers were busy. Like the grev church, she mademe feel as if I were not in exstence. I was wandering by the parapet ofheaven, looking down. But she stood back against the solid wall, underthe caper-bush, unobserved and unobserving. She was like a fragment ofcarth, she was a living stone of the terrace, sun-bleached. She took nono-tice of me, who was hesitating looking down at the carth beneath. Shestood back under the sun-bleached solid wall, like a stone rolled downand staved in a creviceHer head was tied in a dark-red kerchief, but pieces of hair, like dirtynow, quite short, stuck out over her cars. And she was spinning.wondered so much, that I could not cross towards her. She was grey, andher apron, and her dress, and her kerchief, and her hands and her facewere all sun-bleached and sun-stained, grevey, bluey, browny, liketones and half-coloured leaves, sunny in their colorlessness. In myblack coat, I felt mvself wrong, false, an outsiderShe was spinning, spontaneously, lilke a little wind. Under her arm sheheld a distaff of dark, ripe wood, just a straight stick with a clutch at theend, like a grasp of brown fingers full of a fluff of blackish, rusty fleece,held up near her shoulder And her fingers were plucking spontaneouslyat the strands of wool drawn down from it And hanging near her feet,spinning round upon a black thread, spinning busily, like a thing in agav wind was her shuttle, her bobbin wound fat with the coarse, black-ish worsted she was makingAll the time, like motion without thought, her fingers teased out thfleece, drawing it down to a fairly uniform thickness: brown, old, naturalfingers that worked as in a sleep, the thumb having a long grey nail; andfrom moment to moment there was a quick, downward rub, betweenthumb and forefinger, of the thread that hung in front of her apron, theheavy bobbin spun more briskly, and she felt again at the fleece as shedrew it down, and she gave a twist to the thread that issued, and thebobbin spun swiftlyHer eyes were clear as the sky, blue, empyrean, transcendent. Theywere dear, but they had no looking in them. Her face was like a sun-worn stoneYou are spinning, I said to her.Her eyes glanced over me, making no effort of attention.Yes, she said.

She saw merely a man's figure, a stranger standing near. I was a bit ofthe outside, negligible. She remained as she was, clear and sustained likean old stone upon the hillside. She stood short and sturdy, looking forthe most part straight in front, unseeing, but glancing from time to time,with a little, unconscious attention, at the thread. She was slightly moreanimated than the sunshine and the stone and the motionless caper-bushabove her. Still her fingers went along the strand of fleece near herbreastThat is an old way of spinning, I saidWhatShe looked up at me with eyes clear and transcendent as the heavensBut she was slightly roused. There was the slight motion of the eagle inher turning to look at me, a faint gleam of rapt light in her eyes. It wasmy unaccustomed ItalianThat is an old way of spinning, I repeatedYes-an old way,' she repeated, as if to say the words so that theyshould be natural to her. And i became to her merely a transient circum-stance, a man, part of the surroundings. We divided the gift of speech,that was aShe glanced at me again, with her wonderful, unchanging eyes, thatwere like the visible heavens, unthinking, or like two flowers that areopen in pure clear unconsciousness. To her I was a plece of the environment. That was all. Her world was clear and absolute without consciousness of self. She was not self-conscious, because she was not awarethat there was anything in the universe except her universe. In her unl-verse I was a stranger, a foreign signore. That I had a world of my own,other than her own, was not conceived by her. She did not care.So we conceive the stars. We are told that they are other worlds. Butthe stars are the clustered and single gleaming lights in the night-sky ofour world. When I come home at night, there are the stars. when I ceaseto exist as the microcosm, when i begin to think of the cosmos, then thestars are other worlds, Then the macrocosm absorbs me. But the macro-cosm is not me. It is something which I the microcosm, am notSo that there is something which is unknown to me and whichtheless exsts. I am finite, and my understanding has limits. The uris bigger than I shall ever see, in mind or spirit. There is that which is notme


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