Arthur Machen: A Novelist of Ecstasy and Sin/The Praise of Myfanwy


O gift of the everlasting:
O wonderful and hidden mystery.
Many secrets have been vouchsafed to me,
I have been long acquainted with the wisdom of the trees;
Ash and oak and elm have communicated to me from my boyhood,
The birch and the hazel and all the trees of the greenwood have not been dumb.
There is a caldron rimmed with pearls of whose gifts I am not ignorant;
I will speak little of it; its treasures are known to the Bards.
Many went on the search of Caer-Pedryfan,
Seven alone returned with Arthur, but my spirit was present.
Seven are the apple-trees in a beautiful orchard;
I have eaten of their fruit which is not bestowed on Saxons.
I am not ignorant of a Head which is glorious and venerable;
It made perpetual entertainment for the warriors, their joys would have been immortal;

If they had not opened the door of the south, they would have feasted for ever,
Listening to the song of the fairy Birds of Rhiannon.
Let not anyone instruct me concerning the Glassy Isle;
In the garments of the saints who returned from it were rich odours of Paradise.
All this I knew, and yet my knowledge was ignorance.
For one day, as I walked by Caer-rhiu in the principal forest of Gwent,
I saw golden Myfanwy as she bathed in the brook Tarogi,
Her hair flowed about her; Arthur's crown had dissolved into a shining mist.
I gazed into her blue eyes as it were into twin heavens,
All the parts of her body were adornments and miracles.
O gift of the everlasting:
O wonderful and hidden mystery:
When I embraced Myfanwy a moment became immortality.

Arthur Machen