A Mood of Weariness

— I have never been able to Weariness. discover what power sways the tide of moods and times, whereby we are given rich or beggarly days without respect to the day’s events. I take for granted that other human nature is subject to the same caprices as is that of which I am allowed the closest and most unsparing inspection. For myself, then, I find some days most bountiful to the spirit (though they bring no obvious gifts), while others, not tangibly adverse, affect me with a sense of sorrowful penury and foregoing. It is at the close of such beggarly days that there comes to the surface of consciousness a feeling which (at the risk of increasing the vocabulary of emotional pathology) I would call life ache, — the altogether unrelieved fact of identity acutely shared alike by mind and body, — felt occasionally in childhood itself, and distinguishable even through joy. It is at such times that I am reminded of the little child who, when his mother lay dead in an adjoining room, met all efforts to soothe him with these words of pathetic half-comprehension, " I ’m not quite happy enough to go to sleep yet.” In a similar mood of unmeasured, discontented, and watchful weariness, it has often seemed to me that I should like to have some kind and huge Brobdingnagian nurse, who would take me in her arms and swing me slowly between the two poles of the summer arch of the Milky Way (no moon in the sky). I should not wish even to see her features or to hear her voice, unless it were like the surf on a far shore ; and I should prefer that she should be black, — Prince Memnon’s sister, or perhaps Ποτνία Nύξ herself.

Shield me, dark nurse, outworn, defeated, and undone!
Shield me from memories, sweet or bitter, ’neath the sun;
From glance of scorn, from love’s long gaze, from pity’s tear,
Shield me alike ; from blame, from praise, from hope, from fear,
Shield me, dark nurse ; with charm and woven pace surround.
Shield me from sight, from sound, — from dream of sight or sound !

Or, in default of such a wise and beneficent sky nurse, I should be satisfied with the services of the magician to a certain insomnious king of China, who devised for his monarch a tent the curtains of which were woven mist fringed with lashes of rain ; the whole quite impervious, and flowing with faint musical cadence around the sleeper.