How Hardly Things go Right

Alas, how easily things go wrong!

A sigh too much, or a kiss too long,

And there follows a mist and a weeping rain,

And life is never the same again.

Alas, how hardly things go right!

'Tis hard to watch on a summer night,

For the sigh will come and the kiss will stay,

And the summer night is a winter day.

—George MacDonald, Phantastes

All a Man Has to Do

All a man has to do, is to better what he can.

“Somehow or other,” said he, “notwithstanding the beauty of this country of Faerie, in which we are, there is much that is wrong in it. If there are great splendours, there are corresponding horrors; heights and depths; beautiful women and awful fiends; noble men and weaklings. All a man has to do, is to better what he can. And if he will settle it with himself, that even renown and success are in themselves of no great value, and be content to be defeated, if so be that the fault is not his; and so go to his work with a cool brain and a strong will, he will get it done; and fare none the worse in the end, that he was not burdened with provision and precaution.” 
“But he will not always come off well,” I ventured to say.
“Perhaps not,” rejoined the knight, “in the individual act; but the result of his lifetime will content him.”

Excerpt From: MacDonald, George. “Phantastes, a Faerie Romance for Men and Women.” iBooks. 

This material may be protected by copyright.
Check out this book on the iBooks Store: https://itun.es/us/XjFUD.l

The Unknown Abysses of the Soul

And so she vanished. With a sad heart, soothed by humility, and the knowledge of her peace and gladness, I bethought me what now I should do. First, I must leave the tower far behind me, lest, in some evil moment, I might be once more caged within its horrible walls. But it was ill walking in my heavy armour; and besides I had now no right to the golden spurs and the resplendent mail, fitly dulled with long neglect. I might do for a squire; but I honoured knighthood too highly, to call myself any longer one of the noble brotherhood. I stripped off all my armour, piled it under the tree, just where the lady had been seated, and took my unknown way, eastward through the woods. Of all my weapons, I carried only a short axe in my hand.

Then first I knew the delight of being lowly; of saying to myself, “I am what I am, nothing more.” “I have failed,” I said, “I have lost myself—would it had been my shadow.” I looked round: the shadow was nowhere to be seen. Ere long, I learned that it was not myself, but only my shadow, that I had lost. 

I learned that it is better, a thousand-fold, for a proud man to fall and be humbled, than to hold up his head in his pride and fancied innocence. I learned that he that will be a hero, will barely be a man; that he that will be nothing but a doer of his work, is sure of his manhood. 

In nothing was my ideal lowered, or dimmed, or grown less precious; I only saw it too plainly, to set myself for a moment beside it. Indeed, my ideal soon became my life; whereas, formerly, my life had consisted in a vain attempt to behold, if not my ideal in myself, at least myself in my ideal. Now, however, I took, at first, what perhaps was a mistaken pleasure, in despising and degrading myself. Another self seemed to arise, like a white spirit from a dead man, from the dumb and trampled self of the past. Doubtless, this self must again die and be buried, and again, from its tomb, spring a winged child; but of this my history as yet bears not the record.
Self will come to life even in the slaying of self; but there is ever something deeper and stronger than it, which will emerge at last from the unknown abysses of the soul: will it be as a solemn gloom, burning with eyes? or a clear morning after the rain? or a smiling child, that finds itself nowhere, and everywhere?
Excerpt From: MacDonald, George. “Phantastes, a Faerie Romance for Men and Women.” iBooks. 

This material may be protected by copyright.
Check out this book on the iBooks Store: https://itun.es/us/XjFUD.l

The Ministering Ghost

“I have a strange feeling sometimes, that I am a ghost, sent into the world to minister to my fellow men, or, rather, to repair the wrongs I have already done.
May the world be brighter for me, at least in those portions of it, where my darkness falls not.”
George MacDonald, Phantastes

One Home to Win

Thou goest thine, and I go mine

—Many ways we wend;

Many days, and many ways,

Ending in one end.

Many a wrong, and its curing song;

Many a road, and many an inn;

Room to roam, but only one home

For all the world to win.

~George MacDonald,  Phantastes