Near my house there is a garden, beneath whose stately sycamores a fountain plays. Three sculptured girls lift forever upward a chalice which distils unceasingly a fine and plashing rain; in summer the spray holds the maidens in a glittering veil, but winter takes the radiant drops and slowly builds them up into a shroud of ice, which creeps gradually about the three slight figures: the feet vanish, the waist is encircled, the head is covered, the piteous, uplifted arms disappear, as if each were a Vestal Virgin entombed alive for her transgression. They vanishing entirely, the fountain yet plays on unseen; all winter the pile of ice grows larger, glittering organ-pipes of congelation add themselves outside, and by February a great glacier is formed, at whose buried centre stand immovably the patient girls. Spring comes at last, the fated prince, to free with glittering spear these enchanted beauties; the waning glacier, slowly receding, lies conquered before their liberated feet; and still the fountain plays. Who can despair before the iciest human life, when its unconscious symbols are so beautiful?

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