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1. The Trial of Beauty
A voice speaks: "Beauty is the speech of love, the work of beauty is its music." And we stop, stunned out of our deadness, and listen.
Dominating the moment in which beauty appears - an unexpected hummingbird feeding, say, on an early-summer porch, a smile breaking for us on a face we have secretly loved, a dis-tant shaft of sunlight shot suddenly from a cloud - we see a gesture behind the world, of something within yet breaking through the world, like the hand of a prisoner reaching through the bars of a cage, to touch us with
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something we had dreamed was hardly possible: we are shocked into acknowledging some-thing we at one time wanted but long ago aban-doned hope for - we became convinced it was beyond any possible reality; that it was a na´ve daydream - when, suddenly, out of nowhere, turning a corner on a road, out of a hallway, into a room, we are split by a razor in two, and the other side of us cuts back like a shard through the eye and the mind, through the chest's jail of bone, with the blade of grace, to our heart.
But what is this "love," after all - what is its prov-enance, where does it come from, and why is it directed at us? We know the world doesn't "love" us, because the world cannot love at all - the human conquest of the world, whatever its