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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Impressions and Memories
By Lafcadio Hearn (1850–1904)
 
From ‘Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan’

“AND this,” the reader may say, “this is all that you went forth to see: a torii, some shells, a small damask snake, some stones?”  1
  It is true. And nevertheless I know that I am bewitched. There is a charm indefinable about the place; that sort of charm which comes with a little ghostly thrill, never to be forgotten.  2
  Not of strange sights alone is this charm made, but of numberless subtle sensations and ideas interwoven and interblended: the sweet sharp scents of grove and sea; the blood-brightening, vivifying touch of the free wind; the dumb appeal of ancient, mystic, mossy things; vague reverence evoked by knowledge of treading soil called holy for a thousand years; and a sense of sympathy, as a human duty, compelled by the vision of steps of rock worn down into shapelessness by the pilgrim feet of vanished generations.  3
  And other memories ineffaceable: the first sight of the sea-girt City of Pearl through a fairy veil of haze; the windy approach to the lovely island over the velvety soundless brown stretch of sand; the weird majesty of the giant gate of bronze; the queer, high-sloping, fantastic, quaintly gabled street, flinging down sharp shadows of aerial balconies; the flutter of colored draperies in the sea wind, and of flags with their riddles of lettering; the pearly glimmering of the astonishing shops.  4
  And impressions of the enormous day, the day of the Land of the Gods, a loftier day than ever our summers know; and the glory of the view from those green sacred silent heights between sea and sun; and the remembrance of the sky, a sky spiritual as holiness, a sky with clouds ghost-pure and white as the light itself,—seeming indeed not clouds but dreams, or souls of Bodhisattvas about to melt forever into some blue Nirvana.  5
  And the romance of Benten, too,—the deity of Beauty, the divinity of Love, the goddess of Eloquence. Rightly is she likewise named goddess of the sea. For is not the sea most ancient and most excellent of speakers,—the eternal poet, chanter of that mystic hymn whose rhythm shakes the world, whose mighty syllables no man may learn?  6
 
 
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