The Crimson Quest
In Numpholeptos a nymph, like the moon, bathes the man who loves her in a cool, silvery light. From the ‘magic hall’ where the nymph lives her light ‘Rays forth’ through the ‘fantastic world’. But the hall is ‘Like the gem / Centuply angled o’er a diadem’, and the light, as it shines through the walls, is refracted into colour. The lover’s penance is to follow one after another each shaft of coloured light through all the world, and then to ‘retrack’ his steps, and find that the coloured beam ends where it began ‘in your blank pure soul’, ‘alike the source / And tomb of the prismatic glow’. The lover imagines that by bathing in the light that shoots out from the nymph he will achieve a soul as ‘blank’ as her own, and become her fit companion. But the light he steeps himself in is not white but coloured, and he returns after each pilgrimage dyed, grotesque, further from the completion of his quest than he was when he set out. So, he returns from the yellow ray:
KeywordsBurning Clay Crest Cali Metaphor
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