Page:The Russian Review Volume 1.djvu/32

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The Garden of the Holy Virgin.

By Alexander Kuprin.

(Translated for "The Russian Review").

Far beyond the bounds of the Milky Way, upon a planet which will never be disclosed to the eye of the most diligent astronomer, blooms the wonderful, mysterious garden of the Holy Virgin Mary. All the flowers that exist upon our poor and sinful earth, bloom there for many long years, never fading, ever cared for by the patient hands of invisible gardeners. And each flower contains a particle of the soul of a man living on the earth, that particle which sleeps not during our nightly slumber, that leads us through marvelous lands, that shows us the centuries gone by, that conjures up before us the faces of our departed friends, that spins in our imagination the variegated tissues of our slumber-being, now sweet, now ludicrous, now terrible, now blissful, that makes us awaken in unreasonable joy, or in bitter tears, that often opens before us the impenetrable curtains, beyond which stretch out the dark paths of the future, discernible only to children, wise men and blessed clairvoyants. These flowers are the souls of human dreams.

Every time that the moon is full, in those hours of the night that immediately precede the dawn, when our nightly visions are especially bright, lively, and restless, when the pale lunatics, with their eyes closed and their faces turned towards the sky, return to their cold beds along the dangerous edges of the house tops, when the night-flowers open their chalices,—then the Holy Virgin walks through Her garden with light and quiet steps. To her right, glides the round moon, while behind it, never tarrying, always keeping the same distance, flows a little star, like a small boat tied with invisible threads to the stern of a large ship. Soon both the ship and the boat disappear, buried in the vapor-like, orange-colored clouds, and, suddenly, they appear in the dark-blue space. Then their light lends a silvery hue to the Holy Virgin's blue chiton and to Her beautiful face, whose charm and blessedness no man can describe with word, brush, or music.

And, fluttering in joyous impatience, the flowers sway on their thin stems and, like children, stretch out to touch the blue chiton with their petals. And Holy Mary gently smiles upon their pure joy, for She is the Mother of Jesus, who loved flowers