to all our brothers, and they do not concern
our brothers in any way. Thus do we wonder.
There is some error, one frightful error,
in the thinking of men. What is that error?
We do not know, but the knowledge struggles
within us, struggles to be born. Today,
the Golden One stopped suddenly and said:
“We love you.”
But they frowned and shook their
head and looked at us helplessly.
“No,” they whispered, “that is not what
we wished to say.”
They were silent, then they spoke slowly,
and their words were halting, like the words
of a child learning to speak for the first time:
“We are one . . . alone . . . and only . . .
and we love you who are one . . . alone . . . and only.”
We looked into each other’s eyes and we knew
that the breath of a miracle had touched us,
and fled, and left us groping vainly.
And we felt torn, torn for some word we could not find.
We are sitting at a table and we are
writing this upon paper made thousands
of years ago. The light is dim, and we
cannot see the Golden One, only one lock
of gold on the pillow of an ancient bed.
This is our home.
We came upon it today, at sunrise.
For many days we had been crossing a chain
of mountains. The forest rose among cliffs,
and whenever we walked out upon a
barren stretch of rock we saw great peaks
before us in the west, and to the north of us,
and to the south, as far as our eyes could see.
The peaks were red and brown, with the green streaks
of forests as veins upon them, with blue mists as veils
over their heads. We had never heard of these mountains,
nor seen them marked on any map.
The Uncharted Forest has protected them
from the Cities and from the men of the Cities.
We climbed paths where the wild goat
dared not follow. Stones rolled from under
our feet, and we heard them striking the
rocks below, farther and farther down,
and the mountains rang with each stroke,
and long after the strokes had died.
But we went on, for we knew that no men
would ever follow our track nor reach us here.
Then today, at sunrise, we saw a white
flame among the trees, high on a sheer
peak before us. We thought that it was a
fire and stopped. But the flame was
unmoving, yet blinding as liquid metal.
So we climbed toward it through the rocks.
And there, before us, on a broad summit,
with the mountains rising behind it,
stood a house such as we had never seen,
and the white fire came from the sun on
the glass of its windows.
The house had two stories and a strange
roof flat as a floor. There was more window
than wall upon its walls, and the windows
went on straight around the corners, though
how this kept the house standing we could
not guess. The walls were hard and smooth,
of that stone unlike stone which we had
seen in our tunnel.
We both knew it without words: this house
was left from the Unmentionable Times.
The trees had protected it from time
and weather, and from men who have
less pity than time and weather.
We turned to the Golden One and we asked:
“Are you afraid?”
But they shook their head. So we walked
to the door, and we threw it open,
and we stepped together into the house
of the Unmentionable Times.
We shall need the days and the years ahead,
to look, to learn, and to understand
the things of this house. Today, we could
only look and try to believe the sight of
our eyes. We pulled the heavy curtains
from the windows and we saw that the rooms
were small, and we thought that not more
than twelve men could have lived here.
We thought it strange that men had been
permitted to build a house for only twelve.
Never had we seen rooms so full of light.
The sunrays danced upon colors, colors,
more colors than we thought possible,
we who had seen no houses save the
white ones, the brown ones and the grey.
There were great pieces of glass on the
walls, but it was not glass, for when we
looked upon it we saw our own bodies and
all the things behind us, as on the face
of a lake. There were strange things which we
had never seen and the use of which we do
not know. And there were globes of glass
everywhere, in each room, the globes with
the metal cobwebs inside, such as we had
seen in our tunnel.
We found the sleeping hall and we stood
in awe upon its threshold. For it was a
small room and there were only two beds
in it. We found no other beds in the house,
and then we knew that only two had lived
here, and this passes understanding.
What kind of world did they have,
the men of the Unmentionable Times?
We found garments, and the Golden One
gasped at the sight of them. For they
were not white tunics, nor white togas;
they were of all colors, no two of them
alike. Some crumbled to dust as we touched
them. But others were of heavier cloth,
and they felt soft and new in our fingers.
We found a room with walls made of shelves,
which held rows of manuscripts, from the floor
to the ceiling. Never had we seen such a
number of them, nor of such strange shape.
They were not soft and rolled, they had hard
shells of cloth and leather; and the letters
on their pages were so small and so even that
we wondered at the men who had such handwriting.
We glanced through the pages, and we saw
that they were written in our language,
but we found many words which we could
not understand. Tomorrow, we shall begin
to read these scripts.
When we had seen all the rooms of the
house, we looked at the Golden One and
we both knew the thought in our minds.
“We shall never leave this house,” we said,
“nor let it be taken from us. This is
our home and the end of our journey.
This is your house, Golden One, and ours,
and it belongs to no other men whatever as
far as the earth may stretch. We shall not
share it with others, as we share not our joy
with them, nor our love, nor our hunger.
So be it to the end of our days.”
“Your will be done,” they said.
Then we went out to gather wood for
the great hearth of our home. We brought
water from the stream which runs among
the trees under our windows. We killed
a mountain goat, and we brought its flesh
to be cooked in a strange copper pot we
found in a place of wonders, which must
have been the cooking room of the house.
We did this work alone, for no words
of ours could take the Golden One away
from the big glass which is not glass.
They stood before it and they looked
and looked upon their own body.
When the sun sank beyond the mountains,
the Golden One fell asleep on the floor,
amidst jewels, and bottles of crystal,
and flowers of silk. We lifted the Golden
One in our arms and we carried them to a bed,
their head falling softly upon our shoulder.
Then we lit a candle, and we brought paper
from the room of the manuscripts,
and we sat by the window, for we
knew that we could not sleep tonight.
And now we look upon the earth and sky.
This spread of naked rock and peaks
and moonlight is like a world ready to be
born, a world that waits. It seems to us it
asks a sign from us, a spark, a first commandment.
We cannot know what word we are to give,
nor what great deed this earth expects to witness.
We know it waits. It seems to say it has great gifts
to lay before us, but it wishes a greater gift for us.
We are to speak. We are to give its goal,
its highest meaning to all this glowing
space of rock and sky.
We look ahead, we beg our heart for guidance
in answering this call no voice has spoken,
yet we have heard. We look upon our hands.
We see the dust of centuries, the dust which
hid the great secrets and perhaps great evils.
And yet it stirs no fear within our heart,
but only silent reverence and pity.
May knowledge come to us! What is the
secret our heart has understood and yet will
not reveal to us, although it seems to beat