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An Excerpt from “On a Faëry Castle”

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By Hilaire Belloc

There is a part of us, as all the world knows, which is immixed with change and by change only can live. There is another part which lies behind motion and time, and that part is ourselves. This diviner part has surely a stronghold which is also an inheritance. It has a home which perhaps it remembers and which certainly it conceives at rare moments during our path over the moor.

This is that Faëry Castle. It is revealed at the sound of a trumpet; we turn our eyes, we glance and we perceive it; we strain to reach it — in the very effort of our going the doom of human labour falls upon us and it vanishes away.

It is real or unreal. It is unreal like that island which I thought to see some miles from Africa, but which was not truly there: For the ship when it came to the place that island had occupied sailed easily over an empty sea. It is real, like those high Sierras which I drew from the Sacramento River at the turn of the night and which were suddenly obliterated by the rising sun.

Where the vision is but mirage, even there it is a symbol of our goal; where it stands fast and true, for however brief a moment, it can illumine, and should determine the whole of our lives. For such sights are the manifestation of that glory which lies permanent beyond the changing of the world. Of such a sort are the young passionate intentions to relieve the burden of mankind, first love, the mood created by certain strains of music, and — as I am willing to believe — the Walls of Heaven.


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