"Day Dream," Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1880, WikiArt.
“Day Dream,” Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1880, WikiArt.

Part 4: Essence of Living Stone

Heat-rising mirage, desert oasis, single wind-
Wavering palm, clear spring, white-clad figure,
Stated, “Accompany me.” To skilled artisans
They sailed, sculpting images of gods, familiar
Faces and domains: sea, sky, fields, healing.
Statues from figurines to adult size, marble
Liquid green, patterns convoluted, polished
To translucent depths, flowing river valleys
Viewed from mountaintops. Statues touched
By divine light were essence of living stone.

Dream-state, neither sleep nor awake, beyond
Walls of spare cell, Rhete, bathed in heaven’s
Light, sins and cares washed away, blessings
Given, visions received. “All things, mortal and
Divine,” deific voice began, “were created from
Celestial light, gods manifest in marble images,
Interpretations of deities and prophets, past
And present, for pilgrims you will later serve,
Earth-flowing streams recorded, held fast
Since creation in quarries of living stone.”

Deities of condensing cloud, knowing light,
Void of body or natural form, Rhete’s first
Vision, within marble memories stored,
Creation of planets, coalescing by gravity
Spinning round, epochs hammered from
Fiery altar on mountain brows, emerging
First peoples, fertile plains and streams,
Gods as living guides, gift of fire, torches
Night raised, light and warmth, secrets
Etched in rivulets of living stone.

"Sick Child Brought into the Temple of Aesculapius," John William Waterhouse, 1877, Wikiart photo.
“Sick Child Brought into the Temple of Aesculapius,” John William Waterhouse, 1877, Wikiart photo.

Next morning, Rhete sought Dolius, sharing
Visions of oasis and marble, posing questions
About ancient temple. “This holy place,” Dolius
Began, “is oasis of time and meditation apart
From secular world, libraries of ancient papyri,
Understanding medicines, healing, improving
Human life. Some elect to stay, others visit
Sick of body and spirit, messenger of the gods,
Gifted with deific sculptures crafted from
Sacred marble, essence of living stone.

Marble described in this poem is Cipollino, containing
characteristic wavy green bands that may resemble
serpentine river valleys. In this poem, it retains secrets
of geologic creation, and was used for statues of deities
worshiped in this ancient Thracian-like land. See this link:

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