Saturday, May 11, 2013


A Refuge and a Retreat

Anne C.E. Allinson (1871-1932), "Enlarge the Place of Thy Tent," in her Selected Essays (1933; rpt. Freeport: Books for Libraries Press, 1968), pp. 268-286 (at 272-273):
From this confusion there is a refuge. It is a bright city by the Aegean Sea, where once men created an harmonious state, and where still the very ruins of the public buildings of that state feed the soul with an impression of harmony. Here, on a height above the plain, one may sit and lean against a Doric column, golden with age, fresh with deathless beauty. The landscape before the eyes is very noble. The moving sea, the buoyant air, give life and vigor to the statuesque austerity of the encircling mountains. On plain and hill and shore perfect color glows upon perfect form.

Within this area there came into being a people who created "the fairest halting-place in the secular march of man." Their primal passion for freedom resolved itself tripartitely into free institutions, art, and intellectual inquiry. And these again coalesced into a brief unity, unknown among men before or since. Reason, beauty, and liberty were welded together in their laws, their religion, their society, their statues and buildings, their manners, even their clothes and the utensils for their food and drink. On their ageless Acropolis, laden with broken fragments of the past, harmony still dwells, no pensive ghost but a living and ennobling presence. Here is a retreat from the unmoulded, the unperfected.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.

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