There in the middle of the field, by the side of
a crystalline stream, I saw a bird-cage whose rods
and hinges were fashioned by an expert's hands.
In one corner lay a dead bird, and in another were
two basins -- one empty of water and the other
of seeds. I stood there reverently, as if the lifeless
bird and the murmur of the water were worthy of deep
silence and respect -- something worth of examination
and meditation by the heard and conscience.
As I engrossed myself in view and thought, I found
that the poor creature had died of thirst beside
a stream of water, and of hunger in the midst of
a rich field, cradle of life; like a rich man locked
inside his iron safe, perishing from hunger amid
heaps of gold.
Before my eyes I saw the cage turned suddenly into
a human skeleton, and the dead bird into a man's
heart which was bleeding from a deep wound that
looked like the lips of a sorrowing woman.
A voice came from that wound saying, "I am the human
heart, prisoner of substance and victim of earthly laws.
"In God's field of Beauty, at the edge of the stream
of life, I was imprisoned in the cage of laws made by man.
"In the center of beautiful Creation I died neglected because
I was kept from enjoying the freedom of God's bounty.
"Everything of beauty that awakens my love and desire is
a disgrace, according to man's conceptions; everything
of goodness that I crave is but naught, according to his judgment.
"I am the lost human heart, imprisoned in the foul dungeon
of man's dictates, tied with chains of earthly authority,
dead and forgotten by laughing humanity whose tongue is
tied and whose eyes are empty of visible tears.
All these words I heard, and I saw them emerging with
a stream of ever thinning blood from that wounded heart.
More was said, but my misted eyes and crying should prevented
further sight or hearing.
When night fell and slumber draped its mantle over
the face of the earth, I left my bed and walked
toward the sea, saying to myself, “The sea sleeps not.
And in the wakefulness of the sea is a balm for
the spirit that does not rest.
I arrived at the shore, where the mists had rolled
down from the mountain peaks and enveloped that locale
the way a grey veil cloaks the face of a beautiful girl.
I stood staring at the armies of waves, listening to
their jubilant shouts, contemplating the eternal,
clandestine powers that lay behind them—the powers
that race with storms, rage alongside volcanoes,
smile with the mouths of roses, and lilt with brooks.
After a little while I looked around to find three
apparitions sitting on a nearby boulder, the mists
concealing yet not concealing them. I walked slowly
toward them, as if some force in their being attracted
me and subdued my will.
When I had come within a few footsteps of them, I halted
and stood staring at them fixedly, as though sorcery
pervaded that place, blunting my determination and
awakening the imagination latent in my spirit.
At that very moment one of the three arose and, in
a voice that seemed to issue from the depths of the sea,
he said, “Life without love is like a tree without
blossoms or fruit. Love without beauty is like flowers
without fragrance and fruit without seeds.... Life, love,
and beauty—three persons in one substance, independent,
absolute, accepting no change or separation.
Having spoken these words, he sat down again in the same place.
The second phantom stood and, in a voice like the roar
of floodwaters, he said, “Life without rebellion is
like the seasons without spring. Rebellion without truth
is like spring in a bleak, arid desert.... Life, rebellion,
and truth—three persons in one substance, accepting no
separation or alteration.
The third specter now gained his feet and, in a voice
like a thunderclap, he said, “Life without liberty is
like a body without spirit. Liberty without thought
is like a disturbed spirit.... Life, liberty, and
thought—three persons in one substance, eternal,
never-ending, and unceasing.
All three apparitions now arose, and with horrifying
voices they said unanimously, “ Love and what generates
it. Rebellion and what creates it. Liberty and what
nourishes it. Three manifestations of God .
And God is the conscience of the rational world.
A silence fell then, replete with the rustling of unseen
wings and the trembling of ethereal bodies.
I closed my eyes, listening to the echo of the words
I had heard. When I opened them and looked again,
I saw only the sea, wrapped in a shroud of mist.
I drew near to the boulder where the three apparitions
had been sitting, and descried only a column of incense
rising into the sky.