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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/375

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ABSURDITIES WHICH FOLKS CALL POETRY.

best work. He had thrown his whole soul into it. To give one's entire talent in the production is the greatest triumph that any one can achieve. The toad which produces a toad achieves a grand success. You doubt it? Then try it yourself. Ursus had carefully polished this interlude. This bear's cub was entitled "Chaos Vanquished."

Here it was. A night scene. When the curtain drew up, the crowd, massed around the Green Box, saw nothing but intense darkness. In this darkness three shadowy forms were moving about,—a wolf, a bear, and a man. The wolf acted the wolf; Ursus, the bear; Gwynplaine, the man. The wolf and the bear represented the ferocious forces of Nature,—unreasoning hunger and savage ignorance. Both rushed on Gwynplaine. It was chaos combating man. No face could be distinguished. Gwynplaine fought enfolded in a winding-sheet, his face being covered by his thickly falling locks. All else was shadow. The bear growled, the wolf gnashed his teeth, the man cried out. The man was down; the beasts overwhelmed him. He called for aid and succour; he shrieked out an agonized appeal to the Unknown. He gave a death-rattle. To witness this agony of the prostrate man, now scarcely distinguishable from the brutes, was appalling. The crowd looked on breathless; in a minute more the wild beasts would triumph, and chaos re-absorb man. A struggle—cries—howlings; then, all at once, silence.

A song in the distance. Mysterious music floated out, accompanying this chant of invisible spirits; and suddenly, none knowing whence or how, a white apparition arose. This apparition was a light; this light was a woman; this woman was a spirit. Dea—calm, fair, beautiful, awe-inspiring in her serenity and sweetness—appeared in the centre of a luminous haze, the very spirit of dawn. With a voice light, sweet, indescribable,