"For Nature beats in perfect time, And rounds with rhyme her every rune, Whether she work in land or sea, Or hide underground her alchemy. Thou canst not wave thy staff in air, Or dip thy paddle in the lake, But it carves the bow of beauty there, And the ripples in rhyme the oar forsake."
"There is in souls a sympathy with sounds; And as the mind is pitched, the ear is pleased With melting airs or martial, brisk or grave; Some chord in unison with what we hear Is touched within us, and the heart replies. How soft the music of the village bells, Falling at intervals upon the ear In cadence sweet, now dying all away, Now pealing loud again and louder still Clear and sonorous, as the gale comes on."
The great colour tone painters are undoubtedly able to perceive far more of colour than the rest of mankind. Sometimes we think that they use their colours in an extreme way, but instead of this being true, without doubt they perceive colours in nature that they find it impossible to reproduce. I am inclined to think that the greatest colourist would say that the average person knows little or nothing concerning colour, or the harmonies produced by colour. People talk of fixed colours, and yet how little we know about fixed colours in nature. Many people have the idea that natural colours can be classified but with the seven colours of the spectrum we may have hundreds of thousands of changes. There is not an hour of the day but that every colour changes in hue, shade, and tint with the varying conditions of light. An object seen at one moment presents a colour that is very bright, at the next moment a cloud passing over the sky shows it a much darker shade. Man, in his use of pigments, has never been able to reproduce what would be called an absolutely pure colour. Some surfaces so absorb light that we have little, if any, reflected colour, and we call those surfaces black, brown, or grey. Others reflect back so much that we get the bright colours of red, orange or yellow, blue or green, and sometimes violet. Many people believe that they see all the colour that is to be seen, but even the spectrum discloses but a very little of the colour that exists, but yet is invisible to human sight. The colour sense is beyond all question a development in the life of man. Going back in the literature of ancient days, we find little, if any, reference to colour, and the colours mentioned consist of only three or four at most. The Rigveda mentions the earth, but never uses the term green in connection with it, although the terms red and gold are used. The Vedas have no name for the colour of the sky, neither is one to be found in our own Bible. I believe it is only as a man's inner vision unfolds that colour is perceived, and as the inner life is developed man will continue to respond to new colour and new sound vibration.
Colour possesses a power to absorb and retain heat, and it might be well to take this into consideration when using colour for decorating or furnishing rooms. Black not only absorbs the greatest amount of light, but also of heat; and white is at the other extreme, reflecting back more of light and absorbing less of heat. Sir Humphry Davy gave the different heat-absorbing colours in this order: black, blue, green, red, yellow, white. All the different authorities give black and dark blue as having the greatest heat-absorbing power, and white and yellow as having the least. An experiment by Count Rumford shows that those substances that part from heat with the greatest celerity are those which acquire it the most easily. Substances possess a specific influence on the absorption of heat caloric, both luminous and non-luminous, and they give off their caloric at the same rate that it is absorbed. Some scientists state that colour sensation is a part of sound and gives the character or impression of the sound, and that all people feel it whether they consciously recognise it or not. In the same way, melodious sounds should give their character through impressions of harmonious combinations of pleasing colours. Again, colour sensations may be translated into their vocal sounds, thereby giving colour to spoken words. Perhaps it was because Wagner loved colour so much in life that we find so much colour in his music. It is doubtful if any other one composer has ever put so much and such a variety of colour into music as he did. We can well understand his saying, "I must have beauty, colour, and light," and that he received all three we have the evidence in his colour and beauty-inspiring music. Life is music and colour in expression. There is no music or colour apart from life. Both are states of consciousness. Some people in possession of little consciousness hear little of music and see little of colour. They have not come to the consciousness of either the one or the other. All colour and all music is within the soul, and there can be neither the one nor the other until the soul makes them. What anyone is able to see of colour or hear of music is because of his inner knowing, and the greater the inner knowledge the more he will hear of music, and the more he will see of colour in the outer world. The vibration set up in his own life through spiritual feeling and righteous thinking will cause him to become attuned to the great etheric vibration of the universe. The music of the spheres is no idle dream of the visionary. The soul that is one with the Over-Soul knows that everything in God's great universe makes music: the wind passing through the trees, the brooks running over the stones, water falling from a height - wherever there is rhythm there is melody, and rhythm enters into the constitution of all things.
Rates of rhythmic vibration determine creation; rates of discordant vibration destroy all form. Each person may determine for himself whether the vibration of his own life is going to be creative or destructive, for each person can make either the rhythmic, harmonious vibration that makes for health, strength, and happiness, or the discordant vibration that makes for pain, disease, and death. I know that people will say they want harmonious vibration, but something more than wanting is necessary. Desire is the initial move, but the person possessing the true or strong desire should be willing to work for the accomplishment of that particular end, because by work only can fulfilment be obtained. It is, therefore, necessary to obtain as comprehensive a knowledge of the laws of life as one can, and then to live as nearly as possible in conformity with those laws. This constitutes the real wisdom of life, and wisdom is something more than knowledge. Wisdom is both knowing and doing. Sometimes there are people who say that they must acquire a great deal of knowledge in order to be able to do what they wish, but the best way to acquire knowledge is always through doing. Saith the Master: "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine." Few of us need to know more, but most of us need to do more, and through the greater doing there will come the greater knowing. The ideals we have in mind are usually a long way ahead of our performance. The effort to live our ideals will bring with it still greater ideals.