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The Bibelot




From The Bibelot, A Reprint of Poetry and Prose for Book Lovers, chosen in part from scarce editions and sources not generally known, Volume X, Number IV, Testimonial Edition, Edited and Originally Published by Thomas B. Mosher, Portland, Maine; Wm. Wise & Co.; New York; 1895; pp. 130-2.





There is a restlessness unlike any other restlessness in the vagrant spirit of man: a disquietude that is of the soul as well as of the body, for it is the tossed spray of forgotten and primitive memories. And yet, perhaps, this feeling is only the dream of those unquiet minds who are the children of the water.

Long ago, when Manannan, the god of wind and sea, offspring of Lir, the Oceanus of the Gael, lay once by weedy shores, he heard a man and a woman talking. The woman was a woman of the sea, and some say that she was a seal: but that is no matter, for it was in the time when the divine race and the human race and the soulless race and the dumb races that are near to man were all one race. And Manannan heard the man say: “I will give you love and home and peace.” The sea-woman listened to that, and said: “And I will bring you the homelessness of the sea, and the peace of the restless wave, and love like the wandering wind.” At that the man chided her, and said she could be no woman, though she had his love. She laughed, and slid into green water. Then Manannan 131 took the shape of a youth, and appeared to the man. “You are a strange love for a sea-woman,” he said: “and why do you go putting your earth-heart to her sea-heart?” The man said he did not know, but that he had no pleasure in looking at women who were all the same. At that Manannan laughed a low laugh. “Go back,” he said, “and take one you’ll meet singing on the heather. She’s white and fair. But because of your lost love in the water, I’ll give you a gift.” And with that Manannan took a wave of the sea and threw it into the man’s heart. He went back, and wedded, and, when his hour came, he died. But he, and the children he had, and all the unnumbered clan that came of them, knew by day and by night a love that was tameless and changeable as the wandering wind, and a longing that was unquiet as the restless wave, and the homelessness of the sea. And that is why they are called the Sliochd-na-mara, the clan of the waters, or the Treud-na-thonn, the tribe of the sea-wave.

And of that clan are some who have turned their longing after the wind and wave of the mind — the wind that would overtake the 132 waves of thought and dream, and gather them and lift them into clouds of beauty drifting in the blue glens of the sky.

How are these ever to be satisfied, children of the water?

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