The Piazza by Herman Melville
"With fairest flowers,
Whilst summer lasts, and I live here, Fidele—"
When I removed into the country, it was to
occupy an old-fashioned farm-house, which
had no piazza—a deficiency the more regretted,
because not only did I like piazzas, as
somehow combining the coziness of in-doors
with the freedom of out-doors, and it is so
pleasant to inspect your thermometer there,
but the country round about was such a picture,
that in berry time no boy climbs hill
or crosses vale without coming upon easels
planted in every nook, and sun-burnt painters
painting there. A very paradise of painters.
The circle of the stars cut by the circle of the
mountains. At least, so looks it from the
house; though, once upon the mountains, no
circle of them can you see. Had the site been
chosen five rods off, this charmed ring would
not have been.
The house is old. Seventy years since, from
the heart of the Hearth Stone Hills, they quarried
the Kaaba, or Holy Stone, to which, each
Thanksgiving, the social pilgrims used to come.
So long ago, that, in digging for the foundation,
the workmen used both spade and axe, fighting
the Troglodytes of those subterranean parts—sturdy
roots of a sturdy wood, encamped upon
what is now a long land-slide of sleeping
meadow, sloping away off from my poppy-bed.
Of that knit wood, but one survivor stands—an
elm, lonely through steadfastness.
Whoever built the house, he builded better than
he knew; or else Orion in the zenith flashed
down his Damocles' sword to him some starry
night, and said, "Build there." For how,
otherwise, could it have entered the builder's
mind, that, upon the clearing being made, such
a purple prospect would be his?—nothing less
than Greylock, with all his hills about him, like
Charlemagne among his peers.
Now, for a house, so situated in such a country,
to have no piazza for the convenience of
those who might desire to feast upon the view,
and take their time and ease about it, seemed
as much of an omission as if a picture-gallery
should have no bench; for what but picture-galleries
are the marble halls of these same
limestone hills?—galleries hung, month after
month anew, with pictures ever fading into
pictures ever fresh. And beauty is like piety—you
cannot run and read it; tranquillity and
constancy, with, now-a-days, an easy chair, are
needed. For though, of old, when reverence
was in vogue, and indolence was not, the
devotees of Nature, doubtless, used to stand and
adore—just as, in the cathedrals of those ages,
the worshipers of a higher Power did—yet, in
these times of failing faith and feeble knees, we
have the piazza and the pew.
During the first year of my residence, the
more leisurely to witness the coronation of
Charlemagne (weather permitting, they crown
him every sunrise and sunset), I chose me, on
the hill-side bank near by, a royal lounge of
turf—a green velvet lounge, with long, moss-padded
back; while at the head, strangely
enough, there grew (but, I suppose, for heraldry)
three tufts of blue violets in a field-argent
of wild strawberries; and a trellis, with honeysuckle,
I set for canopy. Very majestical
lounge, indeed. So much so, that here, as
with the reclining majesty of Denmark in his
orchard, a sly ear-ache invaded me. But, if
damps abound at times in Westminster Abbey,
because it is so old, why not within this monastery
of mountains, which is older?
A piazza must be had.
The house was wide—my fortune narrow; so
that, to build a panoramic piazza, one round
and round, it could not be—although, indeed,
considering the matter by rule and square, the
carpenters, in the kindest way, were anxious to
gratify my furthest wishes, at I've forgotten how
much a foot.
Upon but one of the four sides would prudence
grant me what I wanted. Now, which
To the east, that long camp of the Hearth
Stone Hills, fading far away towards Quito;
and every fall, a small white flake of something
peering suddenly, of a coolish morning, from
the topmost cliff—the season's new-dropped
lamb, its earliest fleece; and then the Christmas
dawn, draping those dim highlands with red-barred
plaids and tartans—goodly sight from
your piazza, that. Goodly sight; but, to the
north is Charlemagne—can't have the Hearth
Stone Hills with Charlemagne.
Well, the south side. Apple-trees are there.
Pleasant, of a balmy morning, in the month of
May, to sit and see that orchard, white-budded,
as for a bridal; and, in October, one green
arsenal yard; such piles of ruddy shot. Very
fine, I grant; but, to the north is Charlemagne.
The west side, look. An upland pasture,
alleying away into a maple wood at top.
Sweet, in opening spring, to trace upon the
hill-side, otherwise gray and bare—to trace, I
say, the oldest paths by their streaks of earliest
green. Sweet, indeed, I can't deny; but, to
the north is Charlemagne.
So Charlemagne, he carried it. It was not
long after 1848; and, somehow, about that time,
all round the world, these kings, they had the
casting vote, and voted for themselves.
No sooner was ground broken, than all the
neighborhood, neighbor Dives, in particular,
broke, too—into a laugh. Piazza to the north!
Winter piazza! Wants, of winter midnights, to
watch the Aurora Borealis, I suppose; hope
he's laid in good store of Polar muffs and
That was in the lion month of March. Not
forgotten are the blue noses of the carpenters,
and how they scouted at the greenness of the
cit, who would build his sole piazza to the
north. But March don't last forever; patience,
and August comes. And then, in the cool
elysium of my northern bower, I, Lazarus in
Abraham's bosom, cast down the hill a pitying
glance on poor old Dives, tormented in the
purgatory of his piazza to the south.
But, even in December, this northern piazza
does not repel—nipping cold and gusty though
it be, and the north wind, like any miller,
bolting by the snow, in finest flour—for then,
once more, with frosted beard, I pace the sleety
deck, weathering Cape Horn.
In summer, too, Canute-like, sitting here, one
is often reminded of the sea. For not only do
long ground-swells roll the slanting grain, and
little wavelets of the grass ripple over upon the
low piazza, as their beach, and the blown down
of dandelions is wafted like the spray, and the
purple of the mountains is just the purple of
the billows, and a still August noon broods upon
the deep meadows, as a calm upon the Line;
but the vastness and the lonesomeness are so
oceanic, and the silence and the sameness, too,
that the first peep of a strange house, rising
beyond the trees, is for all the world like spying,
on the Barbary coast, an unknown sail.
And this recalls my inland voyage to fairy-land.
A true voyage; but, take it all in all,
interesting as if invented.
From the piazza, some uncertain object I
had caught, mysteriously snugged away, to all
appearance, in a sort of purpled breast-pocket,
high up in a hopper-like hollow, or sunken
angle, among the northwestern mountains—yet,
whether, really, it was on a mountain-side,
or a mountain-top, could not be determined;
because, though, viewed from favorable points,
a blue summit, peering up away behind the
rest, will, as it were, talk to you over their
heads, and plainly tell you, that, though he
(the blue summit) seems among them, he is not
of them (God forbid!), and, indeed, would have
you know that he considers himself—as, to say
truth, he has good right—by several cubits
their superior, nevertheless, certain ranges,
here and there double-filed, as in platoons, so
shoulder and follow up upon one another, with
their irregular shapes and heights, that, from
the piazza, a nigher and lower mountain will,
in most states of the atmosphere, effacingly
shade itself away into a higher and further one;
that an object, bleak on the former's crest, will,
for all that, appear nested in the latter's flank.
These mountains, somehow, they play at hide-and-seek,
and all before one's eyes.
But, be that as it may, the spot in question
was, at all events, so situated as to be only
visible, and then but vaguely, under certain
witching conditions of light and shadow.
Indeed, for a year or more, I knew not there
was such a spot, and might, perhaps, have never
known, had it not been for a wizard afternoon
in autumn—late in autumn—a mad poet's afternoon;
when the turned maple woods in the
broad basin below me, having lost their first
vermilion tint, dully smoked, like smouldering
towns, when flames expire upon their prey;
and rumor had it, that this smokiness in the
general air was not all Indian summer—which
was not used to be so sick a thing, however
mild—but, in great part, was blown from far-off
forests, for weeks on fire, in Vermont; so
that no wonder the sky was ominous as Hecate's
cauldron—and two sportsmen, crossing
a red stubble buck-wheat field, seemed guilty
Macbeth and foreboding Banquo; and the hermit-sun,
hutted in an Adullum cave, well towards
the south, according to his season, did
little else but, by indirect reflection of narrow
rays shot down a Simplon pass among the
clouds, just steadily paint one small, round,
strawberry mole upon the wan cheek of northwestern
hills. Signal as a candle. One spot
of radiance, where all else was shade.
Fairies there, thought I; some haunted ring
where fairies dance.
Time passed; and the following May, after a
gentle shower upon the mountains—a little
shower islanded in misty seas of sunshine; such
a distant shower—and sometimes two, and
three, and four of them, all visible together in
different parts—as I love to watch from the
piazza, instead of thunder storms, as I used to,
which wrap old Greylock, like a Sinai, till one
thinks swart Moses must be climbing among
scathed hemlocks there; after, I say, that,
gentle shower, I saw a rainbow, resting its
further end just where, in autumn, I had
marked the mole. Fairies there, thought I;
remembering that rainbows bring out the
blooms, and that, if one can but get to the
rainbow's end, his fortune is made in a bag of
gold. Yon rainbow's end, would I were there,
thought I. And none the less I wished it, for
now first noticing what seemed some sort of
glen, or grotto, in the mountain side; at least,
whatever it was, viewed through the rainbow's
medium, it glowed like the Potosi mine. But
a work-a-day neighbor said, no doubt it was
but some old barn—an abandoned one, its
broadside beaten in, the acclivity its background.
But I, though I had never been there,
I knew better.
A few days after, a cheery sunrise kindled a
golden sparkle in the same spot as before.
The sparkle was of that vividness, it seemed as
if it could only come from glass. The building,
then—if building, after all, it was—could,
at least, not be a barn, much less an abandoned
one; stale hay ten years musting in it. No;
if aught built by mortal, it must be a cottage;
perhaps long vacant and dismantled, but this
very spring magically fitted up and glazed.
Again, one noon, in the same direction, I
marked, over dimmed tops of terraced foliage,
a broader gleam, as of a silver buckler, held
sunwards over some croucher's head; which
gleam, experience in like cases taught, must
come from a roof newly shingled. This, to
me, made pretty sure the recent occupancy of
that far cot in fairy land.
Day after day, now, full of interest in my
discovery, what time I could spare from reading
the Midsummer's Night Dream, and all about
Titania, wishfully I gazed off towards the hills;
but in vain. Either troops of shadows, an
imperial guard, with slow pace and solemn,
defiled along the steeps; or, routed by pursuing
light, fled broadcast from east to west—old
wars of Lucifer and Michael; or the mountains,
though unvexed by these mirrored sham fights
in the sky, had an atmosphere otherwise unfavorable
for fairy views. I was sorry; the
more so, because I had to keep my chamber
for some time after—which chamber did not
face those hills.
At length, when pretty well again, and sitting
out, in the September morning, upon the
piazza, and thinking to myself, when, just after
a little flock of sheep, the farmer's banded
children passed, a-nutting, and said, "How
sweet a day"—it was, after all, but what their
fathers call a weather-breeder—and, indeed,
was become go sensitive through my illness, as
that I could not bear to look upon a Chinese
creeper of my adoption, and which, to my
delight, climbing a post of the piazza, had
burst out in starry bloom, but now, if you
removed the leaves a little, showed millions of
strange, cankerous worms, which, feeding upon
those blossoms, so shared their blessed hue, as
to make it unblessed evermore—worms, whose
germs had doubtless lurked in the very bulb
which, so hopefully, I had planted: in this ingrate
peevishness of my weary convalescence,
was I sitting there; when, suddenly looking
off, I saw the golden mountain-window, dazzling
like a deep-sea dolphin. Fairies there,
thought I, once more; the queen of fairies at
her fairy-window; at any rate, some glad
mountain-girl; it will do me good, it will cure
this weariness, to look on her. No more; I'll
launch my yawl—ho, cheerly, heart! and push
away for fairy-land—for rainbow's end, in fairy-land.
How to get to fairy-land, by what road, I
did not know; nor could any one inform me;
not even one Edmund Spenser, who had been
there—so he wrote me—further than that to
reach fairy-land, it must be voyaged to, and
with faith. I took the fairy-mountain's bearings,
and the first fine day, when strength permitted,
got into my yawl—high-pommeled, leather
one—cast off the fast, and away I sailed, free
voyager as an autumn leaf. Early dawn; and,
sallying westward, I sowed the morning before
Some miles brought me nigh the hills; but
out of present sight of them. I was not lost;
for road-side golden-rods, as guide-posts, pointed,
I doubted not, the way to the golden window.
Following them, I came to a lone and
languid region, where the grass-grown ways
were traveled but by drowsy cattle, that, less
waked than stirred by day, seemed to walk in
sleep. Browse, they did not—the enchanted
never eat. At least, so says Don Quixote, that
sagest sage that ever lived.
On I went, and gained at last the fairy
mountain's base, but saw yet no fairy ring.
A pasture rose before me. Letting down
five mouldering bars—so moistly green, they
seemed fished up from some sunken wreck—a
wigged old Aries, long-visaged, and with crumpled
horn, came snuffing up; and then, retreating,
decorously led on along a milky-way of
white-weed, past dim-clustering Pleiades and
Hyades, of small forget-me-nots; and would
have led me further still his astral path, but for
golden flights of yellow-birds—pilots, surely,
to the golden window, to one side flying before
me, from bush to bush, towards deep woods—which
woods themselves were luring—and,
somehow, lured, too, by their fence, banning a
dark road, which, however dark, led up. I
pushed through; when Aries, renouncing me
now for some lost soul, wheeled, and went his
wiser way.. Forbidding and forbidden ground—to him.
A winter wood road, matted all along with
winter-green. By the side of pebbly waters—waters
the cheerier for their solitude; beneath
swaying fir-boughs, petted by no season, but
still green in all, on I journeyed—my horse and
I; on, by an old saw-mill, bound down and
hushed with vines, that his grating voice no
more was heard; on, by a deep flume clove
through snowy marble, vernal-tinted, where
freshet eddies had, on each side, spun out
empty chapels in the living rock; on, where
Jacks-in-the-pulpit, like their Baptist namesake,
preached but to the wilderness; on,
where a huge, cross-grain block, fern-bedded,
showed where, in forgotten times, man after
man had tried to split it, but lost his wedges
for his pains—which wedges yet rusted in their
holes; on, where, ages past, in step-like ledges
of a cascade, skull-hollow pots had been
churned out by ceaseless whirling of a flintstone—ever
wearing, but itself unworn; on,
by wild rapids pouring into a secret pool, but
soothed by circling there awhile, issued forth
serenely; on, to less broken ground, and by a
little ring, where, truly, fairies must have
danced, or else some wheel-tire been heated—for
all was bare; still on, and up, and out into
a hanging orchard, where maidenly looked
down upon me a crescent moon, from morning.
My horse hitched low his head. Red apples
rolled before him; Eve's apples; seek-no-furthers.
He tasted one, I another; it tasted of the
ground. Fairy land not yet, thought I, flinging
my bridle to a humped old tree, that crooked
out an arm to catch it. For the way now lay
where path was none, and none might go but
by himself, and only go by daring. Through
blackberry brakes that tried to pluck me back,
though I but strained towards fruitless growths
of mountain-laurel; up slippery steeps to barren
heights, where stood none to welcome. Fairy
land not yet, thought I, though the morning is
here before me.
Foot-sore enough and weary, I gained not
then my journey's end, but came ere long to a
craggy pass, dipping towards growing regions
still beyond. A zigzag road, half overgrown
with blueberry bushes, here turned among the
cliffs. A rent was in their ragged sides; through
it a little track branched off, which, upwards
threading that short defile, came breezily out
above, to where the mountain-top, part sheltered
northward, by a taller brother, sloped gently
off a space, ere darkly plunging; and here,
among fantastic rocks, reposing in a herd, the
foot-track wound, half beaten, up to a little, low-storied,
grayish cottage, capped, nun-like, with a
On one slope, the roof was deeply weather-stained,
and, nigh the turfy eaves-trough, all
velvet-napped; no doubt the snail-monks founded
mossy priories there. The other slope was
newly shingled. On the north side, doorless
and windowless, the clap-boards, innocent of
paint, were yet green as the north side of
lichened pines or copperless hulls of Japanese
junks, becalmed. The whole base, like those
of the neighboring rocks, was rimmed about
with shaded streaks of richest sod; for, with
hearth-stones in fairy land, the natural rock,
though housed, preserves to the last, just as in
open fields, its fertilizing charm; only, by necessity,
working now at a remove, to the sward
without. So, at least, says Oberon, grave
authority in fairy lore. Though setting Oberon
aside, certain it is, that, even in the common
world, the soil, close up to farm-houses, as close
up to pasture rocks, is, even though untended,
ever richer than it is a few rods off—such
gentle, nurturing heat is radiated there.
But with this cottage, the shaded streaks
were richest in its front and about its entrance,
where the ground-sill, and especially the doorsill
had, through long eld, quietly settled down.
No fence was seen, no inclosure. Near by—ferns,
ferns, ferns; further—woods, woods,
woods; beyond—mountains, mountains, mountains;
then—sky, sky, sky. Turned out in aerial
commons, pasture for the mountain moon.
Nature, and but nature, house and, all; even
a low cross-pile of silver birch, piled openly,
to season; up among whose silvery sticks, as
through the fencing of some sequestered grave,
sprang vagrant raspberry bushes—willful assertors
of their right of way.
The foot-track, so dainty narrow, just like a
sheep-track, led through long ferns that lodged.
Fairy land at last, thought I; Una and her lamb
dwell here. Truly, a small abode—mere palanquin,
set down on the summit, in a pass between
two worlds, participant of neither.
A sultry hour, and I wore a light hat, of
yellow sinnet, with white duck trowsers—both
relics of my tropic sea-going. Clogged in the
muffling ferns, I softly stumbled, staining the
knees a sea-green.
Pausing at the threshold, or rather where
threshold once had been, I saw, through the
open door-way, a lonely girl, sewing at a lonely
window. A pale-cheeked girl, and fly-specked
window, with wasps about the mended upper
panes. I spoke. She shyly started, like some
Tahiti girl, secreted for a sacrifice, first catching
sight, through palms, of Captain Cook. Recovering,
she bade me enter; with her apron
brushed off a stool; then silently resumed her
own. With thanks I took the stool; but now,
for a space, I, too, was mute. This, then, is the
fairy-mountain house, and here, the fairy queen
sitting at her fairy window.
I went up to it. Downwards, directed by
the tunneled pass, as through a leveled telescope,
I caught sight of a far-off, soft, azure
world. I hardly knew it, though I came
"You must find this view very pleasant,"
said I, at last.
"Oh, sir," tears starting in her eyes, "the
first time I looked out of this window, I said
'never, never shall I weary of this.'"
"And what wearies you of it now?"
"I don't know," while a tear fell; "but it is
not the view, it is Marianna."
Some months back, her brother, only seventeen,
had come hither, a long way from the
other side, to cut wood and burn coal, and she,
elder sister, had accompanied, him. Long had
they been orphans, and now, sole inhabitants
of the sole house upon the mountain. No guest
came, no traveler passed. The zigzag, perilous
road was only used at seasons by the coal wagons.
The brother was absent the entire day,
sometimes the entire night. When at evening,
fagged out, he did come home, he soon left his
bench, poor fellow, for his bed; just as one, at
last, wearily quits that, too, for still deeper rest.
The bench, the bed, the grave.
Silent I stood by the fairy window, while
these things were being told.
"Do you know," said she at last, as stealing
from her story, "do you know who lives yonder?—I
have never been down into that country—away
off there, I mean; that house, that
marble one," pointing far across the lower
landscape; "have you not caught it? there, on
the long hill-side: the field before, the woods
behind; the white shines out against their blue;
don't you mark it? the only house in sight."
I looked; and after a time, to my surprise,
recognized, more by its position than its aspect,
or Marianna's description, my own abode, glimmering
much like this mountain one from the
piazza. The mirage haze made it appear less a
farm-house than King Charming's palace.
"I have often wondered who lives there;
but it must be some happy one; again this
morning was I thinking so."
"Some happy one," returned I, starting;
"and why do you think that? You judge some
rich one lives there?"
"Rich or not, I never thought; but it looks
so happy, I can't tell how; and it is so far
away. Sometimes I think I do but dream it is
there. You should see it in a sunset."
"No doubt the sunset gilds it finely; but not
more than the sunrise does this house, perhaps."
"This house? The sun is a good sun, but it
never gilds this house. Why should it? This
old house is rotting. That makes it so mossy.
In the morning, the sun comes in at this old
window, to be sure—boarded up, when first we
came; a window I can't keep clean, do what I
may—and half burns, and nearly blinds me at
my sewing, besides setting the flies and wasps
astir—such flies and wasps as only lone mountain
houses know. See, here is the curtain—this
apron—I try to shut it out with then.
It fades it, you see. Sun gild this house? not
that ever Marianna saw."
"Because when this roof is gilded most, then
you stay here within."
"The hottest, weariest hour of day, you
mean? Sir, the sun gilds not this roof. It
leaked so, brother newly shingled all one side.
Did you not see it? The north side, where
the sun strikes most on what the rain has wetted.
The sun is a good sun; but this roof, in
first scorches, and then rots. An old house.
They went West, and are long dead, they say,
who built it. A mountain house. In winter
no fox could den in it. That chimney-place
has been blocked up with snow, just like a
"Yours are strange fancies, Marianna."
"They but reflect the things."
"Then I should have said, 'These are
strange things,' rather than, 'Yours are strange
"As you will;" and took up her sewing.
Something in those quiet words, or in that
quiet act, it made me mute again; while, noting,
through the fairy window, a broad shadow
stealing on, as cast by some gigantic condor,
floating at brooding poise on outstretched wings,
I marked how, by its deeper and inclusive
dusk, it wiped away into itself all lesser shades
of rock or fern.
"You watch the cloud," said Marianna.
"No, a shadow; a cloud's, no doubt—though
that I cannot see. How did you know it?
Your eyes are on your work."
"It dusked my work. There, now the cloud
is gone, Tray comes back."
"The dog, the shaggy dog. At noon, he
steals off, of himself, to change his shape—returns,
and lies down awhile, nigh the door.
Don't you see him? His head is turned round
at you; though, when you came, he looked
"Your eyes rest but on your work; what do
you speak of?"
"By the window, crossing."
"You mean this shaggy shadow—the nigh
one? And, yes, now that I mark it, it is not
unlike a large, black Newfoundland dog. The
invading shadow gone, the invaded one returns.
But I do not see what casts it."
"For that, you must go without."
"One of those grassy rocks, no doubt."
"You see his head, his face?"
"The shadow's? You speak as if you saw
it, and all the time your eyes are on your
"Tray looks at you," still without glancing
up; "this is his hour; I see him."
"Have you then, so long sat at this mountain-window,
where but clouds and, vapors pass,
that, to you, shadows are as things, though
you speak of them as of phantoms; that, by
familiar knowledge, working like a second
sight, you can, without looking for them,
tell just where they are, though, as having
mice-like feet, they creep about, and come
and go; that, to you, these lifeless shadows
are as living friends, who, though out of
sight, are not out of mind, even in their
faces—is it so?"
"That way I never thought of it. But the
friendliest one, that used to soothe my weariness
so much, coolly quivering on the ferns, it
was taken from me, never to return, as Tray
did just now. The shadow of a birch. The
tree was struck by lightning, and brother cut it
up. You saw the cross-pile out-doors—the
buried root lies under it; but not the shadow.
That is flown, and never will come back, nor
ever anywhere stir again."
Another cloud here stole along, once more
blotting out the dog, and blackening all the
mountain; while the stillness was so still,
deafness might have forgot itself, or else believed
that noiseless shadow spoke.
"Birds, Marianna, singing-birds, I hear none;
I hear nothing. Boys and bob-o-links, do they
never come a-berrying up here?"
"Birds, I seldom hear; boys, never. The
berries mostly ripe and fall—few, but me, the
"But yellow-birds showed me the way—part
way, at least."
"And then flew back. I guess they play
about the mountain-side, but don't make the
top their home. And no doubt you think
that, living so lonesome here, knowing nothing,
hearing nothing—little, at least, but sound of
thunder and the fall of trees—never reading,
seldom speaking, yet ever wakeful, this is what
gives me my strange thoughts—for so you call
them—this weariness and wakefulness together
Brother, who stands and works in open air,
would I could rest like him; but mine is mostly
but dull woman's work—sitting, sitting, restless
"But, do you not go walk at times? These
woods are wide."
"And lonesome; lonesome, because so wide.
Sometimes, 'tis true, of afternoons, I go a little
way; but soon come back again. Better feel
lone by hearth, than rock. The shadows hereabouts
I know—those in the woods are
"But the night?"
"Just like the day. Thinking, thinking—a
wheel I cannot stop; pure want of sleep it is
that turns it."
"I have heard that, for this wakeful weariness,
to say one's prayers, and then lay one's
head upon a fresh hop pillow—"
Through the fairy window, she pointed
down the steep to a small garden patch near by—mere
pot of rifled loam, half rounded in by
sheltering rocks—where, side by side, some feet
apart, nipped and puny, two hop-vines climbed
two poles, and, gaining their tip-ends, would
have then joined over in an upward clasp, but
the baffled shoots, groping awhile in empty
air, trailed back whence they sprung.
"You have tried the pillow, then?"
"Prayer and pillow."
"Is there no other cure, or charm?"
"Oh, if I could but once get to yonder
house, and but look upon whoever the happy
being is that lives there! A foolish thought:
why do I think it? Is it that I live so lonesome,
and know nothing?"
"I, too, know nothing; and, therefore, cannot
answer; but, for your sake, Marianna, well
could wish that I were that happy one of the
happy house you dream you see; for then you
would behold him now, and, as you say, this
weariness might leave you."
—Enough. Launching my yawl no more for
fairy-land, I stick to the piazza. It is my box-royal;
and this amphitheatre, my theatre of San
Carlo. Yes, the scenery is magical—the illusion
so complete. And Madam Meadow Lark,
my prima donna, plays her grand engagement
here; and, drinking in her sunrise note, which,
Memnon-like, seems struck from the golden
window, how far from me the weary face
But, every night, when the curtain falls,
truth comes in with darkness. No light shows
from the mountain. To and fro I walk the
piazza deck, haunted by Marianna's face, and
many as real a story.