II. The Miracle
Evening descended upon these virginal forms. But the white mass resisted the shadows, and when the walls were draped in mourning, these bodies still shed light. The very gloom lent them grace and the illusion of nakedness. At this hour Pygmalion could feel them throb with a life that was different from the changeless existence of marble. Twilight tinged their limbs with its ruddy flame and on their breasts the setting sun traced a lingering hand.
That evening the zephyrs pulsed with voluptuousness. From the near-by sea where Venus ruled in her naked chastity, came an enervating languor. First Pygmalion kissed her naked feet, nestling his feverish head against her nubile thighs. Then, with a brusque movement, he arose on the pedestal and sealed her speechless lips with the human compact of a kiss. It was the first kiss of love. He lowered his eyes in shame. Suddenly, however, they grew wide with amazement and thrilling terror before the miracle: the statue had come to life and was stirring. A blush of blood rose to its cheeks. A tremor of life rippled down from its neck to its rosy feet. Slowly, slowly, with rhythmic pauses, the breasts began to rise. And the terrified lashes fluttered before the light.
Now he no longer doubted. His hands became as tender as a gardener’s. At their touch, the marble lost all weight and hardness. The tresses became as black as if the night had been kneaded into them, but the eyes acquired the luminosity of the sea.
She did not speak; she smiled with an expression of astonishment upon her radiant face. Like a child in a cradle she stretched out a hand to touch Pygmalion’s hair. As she parted the dark locks, she laughed. It was a clear laughter. He spoke a few words, and for the first time her smooth forehead wrinkled in an effort to understand.
She was lulled in a tender stupor, for doubtless life is more fatiguing than motionless eternity. Delirious, as if after infinite labors he were about to lose his greatest work, Pygmalion watched for signs of life. In her repose, Galatea, with her arms crossed over her bosom, her lips supine and on her face such a sleeping abandon, evoked not the proud image of a marble goddess but that of sad flesh seeking the shelter of love. By divine consent she had been fashioned, not of common clay, but of pure marble. And, as in the hours of creation, so he too felt divine.
All that night he kept vigil over this tender life. At the first glimmer of daybreak his amazement was repeated. All trace of marmorean life had disappeared in Galatea. Perhaps in her flesh there remained the polished softness where caresses glide. But in her lips and in her arms, in the hair that cascaded over her shoulders, there were an earthly grace and frailty. Only in her eyes without pupils there floated the vagueness of an Olympian remembrance.
She did not speak because she had been eternal. Doubtless, with the light there entered into her mind a confused perception of earthly things. Her soul was like those Hindu blocks of ivory whereon one may sculpture alike the goatish visage of the satyr and the face of Pallas Athena.The Legend of Pygmalion