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Primavera

Dreamed 1920s by Walter de la Mare

Many years ago, I dreamed... that Spring, Flora of Primavera herself, was at that moment passing beneath my bedroom window--a commonplace window enough.

I awoke, this vision and conviction vividly clear in memory, and at once sprang out of bed in order to verify it. Thrusting back the slats of the Venetian blind over my left shoulder I gazed through the glass of the window-pane into the world without. It was early morning and the scene beyond had that rapt yet absent look which is usually the garb of natural objects before the business of the day begins. The street was ineffably quiet; no human wayfarer was in sight; nor can I recall any sound, even if any were then audible.

And there, beneath me, in the dusty roadway, and precisely as in my dream, I saw Spring herself advancing slowly up my way. She sat, uplifted, ethereally lovely, surrounded by her attendant nymphs and amorini, and crowned and wreathed with flowers. It was with ropes of flowers, also, that her nymphs were drawing slowly on her low flat Car on its wide clumsy wooden wheels, like gigantic cotton-reels.

And so I stood, feasting my eyes on a waking vision--easily dissected, if need be, of course into Botticelli, a child's toy-cart and a circus parade. But many lively and lovely "phenomena" (a frog or a humming-bird, for example) are unimproved by dissection; and even a chemical compound is not merely the sum of its parts.

The scene was tranquil and solemn; the very houses seemed asleep; and yet--faces and garlands, the merry naked pagan children--it was also a spectacle of a divine gaiety, and of a singular, yet not unearthly, beauty. I retired to bed again, and remember no more.

To see any such picture as this with one's inward eyes while the outward are in full view of an unattended-to sunlit objective world is so common and normal an experience that one gives it no second thought. On that far-off morning, however, both the dreamed-of and the actual appeared to be not only equally visible but equally actual. The Car with its celestial burden shut out the dusty flat macadamized road beneath it.

And it was no less memorable an experience than that of surveying in my boyhood from the granite parapet of the Embankment near the old and lamented Waterloo Bridge, the drowned body of some poor outcast which had been tethered to a police-boat and was now swaying idly in the tide of the Thames. Both spectacles, that of this radiant Spring, and of the dead woman, and each in its own fashion, were a kind of touchstone. And this is in the gift of sleep as well as of waking.



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