Reference > The Library > Helen Rex Keller > Reader’s Digest of Books

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
H. R. Keller.  The Reader’s Digest of Books.
The Hour Glass
William Butler Yeats (1865–1939)
Hour Glass, The, by W. B. Yeats (1903). The actors in this short but exquisite morality are a wise man, a fool, some pupils, an angel, and the wise man’s wife and two children. The wise man is to explain to his pupils a passage in the book before him which says: “There are two living countries, the one visible and the one invisible … the learned in old times forgot the visible country.” He thinks he has taught his pupils better than that. The fool asks for pennies and says he has seen that priests and people on account of the wise man’s teaching have given up their old religious observances. The fool says that he often sees angels, the wise man that he has shut people’s ears to “the imaginary harpings and speech of the angels.” While he is yet speaking, an angel appears to him and tells him that he will die within the hour, because no souls have passed over the threshold of heaven since he came to the country. He pleads without avail for mercy from the angel, but is told that if before the last sands have run from the hour glass he can find one who believes, he shall come to heaven after years of purgatory. His pupils and the fool enter. None of his pupils believe. His wife says that a good wife only believes what her husband tells her. His own children repeat what he had formerly taught them “there is no heaven: there is no hell: there is nothing we cannot see.” Teigne the fool says he believes in “the Fire that punishes, the Fire that purifies, and the Fire wherein the soul rejoices for ever.” The wise man asks the fool to pray that a sign may be given to his pupils that they may be saved, and bows his head and dies.  1

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