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The Fruits of the Earth Les Nourritures Terrestres Les Nouvelles Nourritures

ANDRE GIDE

TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY DOROTHY BUSSY

1949 Do not be deceived, Nathaniel, by , 'the uncompromising title I have thought fit to give this book. I might have called it Menalcas, but Menalcas has never, any more than yourself, existed. The only man I s name that might have been set to it is my own; but then how should I have dared sign it? I have put myself into it without affectation or shame; and if sometimes I speak in it of lands I have never visited, of perfumes I have never breathed, of actions I have never committed--or of you, my Nathaniel, whom I have not yet seen-it is not hypocrisy, and these things are no more false than is this name I call you by, not knowing what yours will be-yours, Nathaniel, who will one day read me. And when you have read me, throw this book away -and go out. May it have given you the desire to go outto go out from wherever you may be, from your town, from your family, from your room, from your thoughts. Do not take my book with you. If I had been Menalcas, I should have led you by your right band, but your left would not have known it, and soon-as soon as we were far from any town-I should have let go the hand I held and told you to forget me. May my book teach you to care more for yourself than for it-and then more for all the rest than for yourself. B0 0 K I My idle happiness that slept so long Is now at length awaking. Hafiz Do not hope, Nathaniel, to find God here or there -but everywhere. Every creature points to God none reveals Him. Every creature we let our eye s dwell on distracts us from God. While other people were publishing or working, I, on the contrary, devoted three years of travel to forgetting all that I had learned with my head. This unlearning was slow and difficult; it was of more use to me than all the learning imposed by men, and was really the beginning of an education. You will never know the efforts it cost us to become interested in life; but now that life does interest us, it will be like everything else-passionately. I chastised my flesh gladly, taking more pleasure in the chastisement than in the fault-so intoxicating was the pride I took in not sinning simply. Suppress in yourself the idea of merit-one of the mind's great stumbling-blocks. . . . All our life long we have been tormented by the uncertainty of our paths. How can I put it? All choice, when one comes to think of it, is terrifying: liberty when there is no duty to guide it, terrifying. The path that has to be chosen lies through a wholly unexplored country, where each one makes his own discoveries, and

Love without caring whether what you love is good or bad. Their splendor came from my ceaseless burning for them. Nathaniel. you will never meet with anything but God. Nathaniel. each one of my desires has enriched me more than the always deceitful possession of the object of my desire. Two handsome barefooted boys were collecting the grain. Let me have no rest but the sleep of death. The chaff blew away. and the mirage of perennial springs. Why do you attach so much importance to it? There is profit in desires. I write for you only in those hours. . I hope that after I have expressed on this earth all that was in me waiting to be expressed-I hope that I may die satisfied and utterly hopeless. Wherever you go. you are like the man who should follow as his guide the light he holds in his own hand. subject.. and profit in the satisfaction of desires-for so they are increased. I know one ought not to begin writing when one has nothing else than that to say. Leave to each one the care of his own life. not sympathy. oqe. when you are still expectant. Nothing interested me in a mind but what made it different from others. the most devious thoughts. Act without judging whether the action is right or wrong.) Nathaniel. alas. I weep because I have nothing else to say. rather than a quiet one. A woman was turning the millstone. in -which you would see nothing but the projection of your own fervor. and even the foreground is nothing but a successive and changeable appearance. Let the importance lie in your look. and kneel down at haphazard. springs will flow where our desires bid them. so that the vaguest track in the darkest Africa is more easily distinguishable. which seemed to me the mere recognition of a common emotion. Remember thai it is only God who is not transitory. A heretic among heretics. All your gathered knowledge of what is outside you will remain outside you to all eternity. I never wearied. the grain rolled on to the floor. And so. I am afraid that every desire. . anywhere. And yet I have written and I shall write more again on the same. And indeed.-note this-for himself alone. In the meantime. A harrowing life._aft er the other. where are we to address our prayers? At last we end by saying that He-the Unfindable-is everywhere. All fervor consumed me with love-consumed me deliciously. every energy I have not satisfied during my life may survive to torment me. the extremest divergences. and the landscape about us gradually falls into shape as we advance. for which I have been consumed with love. Nathaniel. Nathaniel. when your fervor is about to turn into sadness for want of sustenance. No. look at everything as you pass on your way. Nathaniel. I should like to come to you at that hour of the night when you have opened. Shady groves allure us. sufferings that else I could hardly have borne. Or rather. Nathaniel. not sympathy. Surely you understand they are not the same.. The dust was suffocating. It was the fear of losing love that made me sometimes sympathize with sorrows. Many are the delicious things. I write only for you. I should like to speak to you more intimately than anyone has ever yet spoken to you. troubles. but stay nowhere. "is what lies ahead of US.. But why comparisons when the matter is so serious? We all believe we shall eventually discover God. a great many books after looking in each one of them for something more than it has ever told you. I should like to draw near you and make you love me. . (I cannot write today because a wheel is turning in the barn. I should like to give you a joy that no one else has yet given you. I do not know how to bestow it and yet that joy is mine. it was thrashing colza. I should like to write a book from which every thought. for the country only comes into existence as our approach gives it form. I will teach you fervor. we cannot see as far as the horizon. . I went so far as to forbid myself sympathy. and then shut. "God. I was constantly drawn to the most opposite opinions. Nathaniel-love. not in the thing you look at. No. Yesterday I saw it. love. every emotion of my own would seem to you absent. Nathaniel." said Menalcas.

passivity. Obscure operations of life. If I had known more lovely things than these. I will teach you fervor. and how often. but how great is the soul's exhaustion when nothing distracts it from God! The fixity of my adoration was fearful. with curiosity for strange loves. "for the impossible happiness of the soul. I felt for Menalcas more than friendship. went through an anxious period of suspense. casements! How often I have cooled my brow against your panes. as though in the first stages of a metamorphosis. They consume us. -it was like crossing a bog. and hardly less than love. And if our souls have been of any worth. Great fields washed in the whiteness of dawn. I loved him too as a brother. I have seen you. . Menalcas. Ah. Menalcas said this too. at any rate I have favored them. The present would be pregnant with all futures if the past had not already projected its history into it. I Iay down 'after meals. Nathaniel. latent travail. my perceptions were confused. Our acts are attached to us as its glimmer is to phosphorus. which he longs to drink. But you hated weakness. he makes their -hearts sick with longing for fruit that is wild and sour. I woke up more tired than before. so hotly his fever pants for it. so like water from a spring-one seemed to drink you. but they make our splendor. so cool is the water. ASSUME AS MUCH HUMANITY AS POSSIBLE-let this be your motto. Not wisdom. Ah. I will teach you fervor. I would gladly have traveled with you along many-another path. alas. I slept. casements! And you. you consumed my flesh with a mortal consumption. of them and not of any others. (This that I am saying to you is what Menalcas said to me. and which he drinks at one draught. ought to wait. infinitely? Nathaniel. He weans them from loving nothing but their own family and teaches them to leave it slowly. through leaves and branches. Menalcas.) Indeed I hope that I have known all passions and all vices. but children are not afraid of him. Can you understand this-that every feeling is present. like those of a stunned or drunken man. "YOU would search long. one and all. I slept like a chrysalis and a pupa. how deeply I have inhaled the cold night air. it is because they have burned more ardently than others." After the first days of dubious ecstasy bad gone by. but incapable of putting aside that delicious glass from his lips. and your claim was to teach me to leave you. blue lakes. Every creature is capable of nakedness. unknown births. drowsiness. ah. I have bathed in your waters-and to every caress of the laughing breeze I have smiled back an answer-this is what I shall never tire of telling you. already different creature I was going to be -form within me. Nathaniel. every emotion. My emotions flowered in me like a divine revelation.but before I met Menalcas-I. you appeared beautiful to me. that moist glass which a sick man holds in his feverish hands. Menalcas is dangerous. yes. I let the new. knowing that he. I felt it so near escaping from my body. Manifold forms of life. it is true. "let the crisis . You have not taught me wisdom. I was absorbed in it to self -extinction. it is of them that I should have told you-yes. Ah. when I sprang from the unbearable beat of my bed and ran to the balcony. and on certain evenings I was mad enough almost to believe in my soul. To understand is to feel capable of doing. with a mind benumbed. but love. a one and only past can offer us no more than a one and only future-which it casts before us like an infinite bridge over space. But. wise men condemn him.Melancholy is nothing but abated fervor. of plenitude. And our life will have been set before us like that glass of iced water. All my being is passionately drawn to all creeds. laborious deliveries. deadened." said Menalcas to me. pale beams streaming from the moon through the mists of night.-_ We can only be sure of never doing what we are incapable of understanding. beware of him. I sank overwhelmed into heavy slumbers of which no amount of sleep sufficed to cure me. There are strange possibilities in every man. "Ali!" I prayed. All light reached me as though filtered through depth upon depth of green waters. my desires vanished like a wraith at sight of the vast and tranquil skies! Fevers of bygone days.

It inhere that I must live. so that my torpor seemed to come from the very complexity of my. like a vegetable. on days when to breathe is almost impossible. I will speak to you of waiting. to eyes long accustomed to their glooms. sometimes came in glimpses. if only my eyes could see with newvision. I washed in warm water and went languidly down to the plain. and all nature longs for the Rash of lightning that will rip open the murky. as though better to welcome the coming water. seemed to plunge me still deeper into it. Then I went to sleep again for hour after hour. How long." I I "The Exile's Song. Then. far from putting an end to my apathy. The household noises reached me vaguely. . where in idleness I waited for the evening to draw in. with a beating heart and a numbed brain. then more and more insistently. Roofed with bramblesCheerless abode. I met Menalcas. The light that trickled in from below through the cracks of the closed shutters and cast green reflections of the lawn on the white ceiling-that evening light was my one solace.come to a head now. High the hills. Nathaniel. my betrothal. "What can come that is not born of ourselves? And what can be born of us that we do not know already?" Abel's birth. thought and the indecision of my will. Cold is this earthy house. 0 waiting. . hauntingly. to write. and my marvelous convalescence was a palingenesis. . Ah. set round with branches. and the world lay gasping in the heat of the sun. I should have liked to sleep to all eternity in the moisture of the earth. I am weary of it. I read: ". "Abl" I cried. called back from heaven knows where. It was that time of year when the conebearing trees are laden with pollen and gently wave their branches in order to scatter their fertilizing dust abroad. let the disease declare itself. Slowly I came back to life. where we were a little sheltered from the extreme fierceness of the light. Sad dwelling. . "let a breach be thrown open. then oftener. let the daylight come flooding in. I woke up in a sweat. The moment was too oppressively solemn. Gloomy the valleys. Eric's death-all this upheaval of my life. like small children who feel drowsy with the heat and are put to bed at noon in the stir of a bustling household. Sometimes I said to myself that sensual pleasure would put an end to my trouble. in a new country and among things absolutely fresh. what will there be left for us to live for? "Waiting! Waiting for what?" I cried. will you last? And once over. though not yet achieved. It was not even longin-it was apprehension. 1. let it shine at last among these perpetual peevish glooms!" My whole being felt. The earth had cracked into great fissures from the drought.I fell ill. at once." Translated from the Anglo-Saxon by Taine and quoted in Litterature anglaise. I am forced to dwell Under the leaves of the forest. the pain stab me!" And my brain felt like those stormy skies. charged with lowering clouds. The dust on the roads had become so light that a breath raised it. make them more like the skies they look atskies that today have been washed bright and clean by the recent rains. Storm clouds bad piled themselves in the lowering sky and all nature was expectant. . longing for a little rain. I was perpetually too tired to speak. I awaited a second puberty. to listen. p. Every afternoon we went to rest below the terrace. Vol. if only I could cleanse them from the soil of books. The scent of the wild moorland flowers was almost intolerable. I have seen the plains in summer waiting. as it were. and I tried to liberate my mind by exhausting my flesh. the sea-gulls As they spread their wrings and bathe. I traveled. humor-laden bladders that blot out heaven's azure. I was born again with a new self. an immense need to refresh its vigor in a bath of newness. He sees before him The deserted roads. The feeling that a plenitude of life was possible. as far as the garden bench. for all the birds had . In this underground cave. 30. it was soft and charming as the glimmer that filters through leaves and water and trembles on the threshold of dim grottoes. Under the oak trees.

There are some one loves like brothers Who have lived more purely and better than we. Who awaits God. Understand that at every moment of the day God in His entirety may be yours. but when you speak. Let every moment renew your vision. it rained. delicious with humility. but do not long for anything else. But that thrill little children. Some. Some for other country places Nobiscum rusticantur. says Cicero. I sat down. the pollen from the trees floated from the branches like a golden smoke. Some books one reads out walking (A little too because of their size). Nathaniel. did you not see God. Then. Others in which there is so much talk of nature That after reading them there is no need to go out for a walk. So hot a breath rose from the earth that all life seemed to-be swooning. Welcome everything that comes to you. I have seen the sky shiver as it waited for the dawn. so that everything may be ceaselessly renewed-so that no mode of life may last longer than the time needed for it to express itself. At every smallest moment of my life I have felt within me the whole of my wealth. but simply a welcoming. For what is a longing that is not effectual? What.fallen silent. let your waiting be not even a longing. Some that prove there is a God. Others that fail to. There are some that try to make one love life. fails to understand he possesses Him. and your possession a lover's. but you do not look. and the mystery of life began once more to rustle in the fretwork of the leaves. you possess God without being aware of it! To possess God is to see Him. There are some that treat of nothing but apiculture And might be thought a little technical. There are some that make us believe in the existence of the soul. Nathaniel. You do not even know which of them all you prefer and you do not understand that the only possession of any value is life. Nathaniel. It seemed to me that the indistinguishable throb of life all around me was lingering. Some others lying in a hayloft. the creatures. There are . who stood in your way and from whom your ass turned aside? Because you had imagined Him otherwise. no caress of the air's but was icy. and put all your happiness in the present moment. longed for. One by one the stars faded. All the weariness of your mind. and my head too was heavy with torpor. There are some I have read in stagecoaches. You must make a bonfire in your heart. Some are called anthologies And contain all the best sayings On everything under the sun. Others after writing which The author has committed suicide. Believe that God and happiness are one. 0 Nathaniel. so I have always carried with me all my possessions. not in the addition of a great many particular items. Some are for the woods. Then the day dawned. Long only for what you have. Charged with ecstasy. The smallest moment of life is stronger than death and cancels it. A LAY WORSHIPPING WHAT I HAVE BURNED Some books one reads sitting on a narrow bench In front of a school desk. God only must not be awaited. comes from the diversity of your possessions. The wise man is be who constantly wonders afresh. Death is no more than permission granted to other modes of life to exist. As women in the pale East wear their entire fortune on their persons. but in my single adoration of them. seem to shine. There are some that are despised by wise men. Some that have been praised by many eminent critics. It consisted. listen. I climbed to the outskirts of the wood. I have seen still other dawns. Some that can only be admitted into private libraries. confident in the return of day. Nathaniel. Nathaniel. All the rest of the time. Let your longing be for love. I have seen the night Awaited. of all your books. I have constantly carried my whole wealth in my whole power. and upon the morning as the birth of all things. Others that make us despair of it. The meadows were flooded with dew. Look upon the evening as the death of the day. listen no longer. Happy the moment in which your words resound. reluctant to awake. resumed their labors and their joys. There are some that sow hatred And reap what they have sown. Balaam. as one reads them.

" said Alcides. two 0 months later of Theodosius. It was a book that John ate on Patmos. why do you grudge us your abundance. I experienced all the things you know so well-the springtime. 0 loving beauty of the earth. The necessity of choice was always intolerable. Ydier. with no end in view but simply to cool my vagabond fever. my bare feet must feel it. they inevitably impinged on one another. The mistake of my life in those days was to be incapable of pursuing any study for long because I could not make up my mind to give up a host of others. a body exasperated by constraint. glades opening out in the forest. lands lying open before me that my longing explores! Papyrus alley. when shall we make a bonfire of all our books? Some there are not worth a penny.some written in such strange languages That even after a deep study of them They are impossible to understand. . visions of the plain through an embrasure of branches. but to do it-for I had very little fear of faticrue or suffering. I took to the road. cups that can never run dry. fearing to close them lest it should be to clasp only one thing. who had discovered astronomy. thought I. everything I saw another do." "Tell us the story of your life. Angaire. It made his belly bitter And afterwards he had visions. but my arms wide open in distraction. visions of unbounded promise! I have walked in narrow passages through rocks or plants. the mists of morning on the rivers. cannot know. of all our books!! It is not enough for me -t. the smell of the earth. I passed through towns. the flowering of the fields. But at that time what did I not desire in my madness? I envied every form of -life. and knowledge of God.o read that the sand on the seashore is soft. that the smallest suffices to transport us and reveals the plenitude and totality of God. and the innumerable quantity of that remainder always seemed preferable to any single item whatever. very poor. whereas I wanted it deep and wide. So that the figure I drew of myself was the vaguest and most uncertain. in my own name). Some speak of kings and queens. I have no use for knowledge that has not been preceded by a sensation. an unoccupied heart sick of its own emptiness. I never did anything but this or that. I prefer raspberries). and you would overflow eternally with fresh water for the outstretched lips of every fresh comer?I have learned now that all the drops of that divine fountainhead are equivalent. I wanted to' do myself-not to have done it. I have seen springtimes unfold. growing over water." said Menalcas (and I repeat you his words now. But you. and lasting affections. And Menalcas went on: "At eighteen years of age. and no reasoning could relieve my distress. Happy. A garden on a Florentine hill (facing Fiesole)-our meeting-place that evening But you do not. indeed. Menalcas. the haze of evening on the meadows. not daring to do anything. To spend it. Anything was too dear at such a price. I hated homes and families and all the places where a man thinks to find rest. Tityrus. to choose. sciences of nature. reeds bending down to the river. I have never seen anything sweetly beautiful in this world without desiring to touch it with all my fondness. Like a rat (as for me. If I did this. because I could not consent to limit it. Scenes into which my desire plunges. the man who is attached to nothing on earth and who carries his fervor unremittingly with him through all the ceaseless mobility of life. "Merchandise! Stores of wealth! Heaps of treasure trovel Why can you not be given us unsparingly? I know. "the passion that devoured my youth. I was jealous of Parmenides for three weeks on end because he was learning Turkish. The flight of time maddened me. and the fidelities of love. I realized with horror how restricted were the passing hours and that time has only one dimensions line. Nathaniel. immaterial ideas! unappropriated forms of life. with a mind weary of work. as my desires hurried impatiently along it. To enter a market of delights with too small a sum (thanks to Whom?) at my disposal. and I often remained motionless. the flowering of your surface is marvelous. when I bad finished my first schooling. I immediately regretted that. but stopped nowhere. And others of the. cups of truth. and believed them to be pregnant with instruction. my brother (though its source springs near at hand). Others extremely valuable. There are some whose words are sweeter Than the rustle of leaves at noon. was to give up forever any chance of the remainder. Nathaniel. when all our thirst could never drain you. "This was the cause of some of the aversion I feel for any possession on earth-the fear of immediately possessing nothing but that. mind you. that the produce of the earth is not inexhaustible (though inexhaustibly renewable) and that the cup I have emptied remains empty for you. choosing seemed to me not so much selecting as rejecting what I didn't select. Nathaniel. A bonfire.

and from hour to hour. once the sun had risen. in the evenings I came upon wonderful oases. Remembrance of the past had only just enough power over me to give the necessary unity to my life. But as I bad learned at school that men are not guided by reasoning and that every argument may be opposed by a contrary one which needs only to be found. For a moment the house door would open on a glimpse of welcoming light and warmth and laughter. attentive. I have still felt. "Books bad taught me that every liberty is provisional and never anything but the power to choose one's slavery. On the sandy plain that lay stretched in the sun. I sometimes kept the bread I bad taken with me till I was half fainting. conciliatory. or at any rate one's devotion-as the thistle seed flies bither and thither. to become joyful-to free itself at last even from me. a feast to which all within me was invited. at the disposal of each one of my senses. rather than protest against anything. the dew was my morning lotion. I wanted nothing but to be more and more simply absorbed into nature. and at my feet grow big with love. Ah. being too greatly encumbered by myself. as though struck down by a vast and overpowering sleep. I held that every new thing should always find the whole of us wholly available. I took my rest no matter where. I bate you! closed circles round the hearth. I enjoyed the violent pleasure of pride. he understood that it wasfor him their glory lay open. No vagabond thing could enter now. I took pleasure in excessive frugality and ate so little that my head grew light and the slightest sensation procured me a kind of drunkenness. and so little capable of reaction that. I called up the sun to shine on the stubble fields. I taught myself that. "The next day I saw him coming out of school. all the cooler for having been so longed for during the day. and oxen drawing the big lumbering wagons? "There came a time when my joy was so great that I longed to communicate it. I preferred to think ill of nothing. where thirst cannot be quenched. the lark sang my fancies. . My happiness came from this-that a thirst was revealed me by every spring and that in the waterless desert.' I cried.I spoke to -him. a presence welcomed by all my eager senses. a listener* without a single thought of himself. doors fast shut. 'is the gift of perpetual discovery. There were mornings when I washed in the grass and the rising sun dried my damp clothes. The father was there near the lamp. and the rooks awaking above beech groves. wonderful palingenesis! Often in my early morning rambles I have had the delicious sensation of having a new self. the thirst that arises in face of every pleasure must be swift to precede its enjoyment. I fell asleep in the hollow of a haystack. "My soul was in a state of lyrical ecstasy. a boy was doing his lessons beside his father-and my heart swelled with the desire to take him away with me to live a wandering life on the roads. in the course of my long journeyings. -Families. I made myself ductile. Even so. I liked to rise before dawn. And so I taught his soul to become more vagabond. a fresh delicacy of perception. "It was lassitude I hated. then nature seemed to me less alien. I lived in the perpetual. I preferred to it the fierceness of my fever and the excitement of the sun. prospects. but I have known none of them give that intoxication that comes from fastingthat swimming of the plains in the early morning when. Indeed. I opened his eyes to the. Was the country ever more beautiful than on the day I saw a rich harvest carried home to the sound of singing. the children from their school. more intimately penetrating-an influx from without. no blast of the shivering wind outside. delicious expectation of the future. to teach someone else how I kept it alive. "Alone. that thread had to be broken. I set about looking for it. "Sometimes in little obscure villages I used to watch the homes that bad been dispersed during the day coming together again in the evening. My soul was the inn standing open at the crossroads. which my solitude enhanced and which grew fatiguing toward . no matter what it might be. like expectant questions in face of their answers. the day after. it was like the mysterious thread that bound Theseus to his past love but did not prevent him from pushing on to newer. the father returning tired out from his work. and I held that one should confidently reckon on the world's inexhaustible diversity. 'The poet's gift. I stood leaning at the window-pane for a long space watching the habits of a household.Sometimes. I possessed the precious gift of not.and attachment to ideas-all that endangers justice.' and I welcomed whatever came. four days later he left everything to follow me. a captor of every passing emotion. for I knew it was made of tedium. I have slept in the fields. sometimes. and then shut again for the night. I have slept in the woods.. so great was the heat and even in the very vibration of the airI have still felt a pulsing life that could not sleep-I have felt it tremble and faint in the curve of the horizon. jealous possession of happiness. seeking a fertile soil in which to fix its roots-and can only flower when motionless. glory of the plains. I have drunk many wines since then. entered whatever would. invisible in the night. the grandfather's chair stood empty. the mother sat sewing. I have seen the dawn quivering between tall sheaves of grain. "Every day. to grow acquainted with its solitude. I soon noticed how little my love of beauty was based upon hatred of ugliness.

I could only-do so with the help of my pride. I was kept up by pride. no joy seemed to me exclusively my own. in a couple of days I realized a large fortune. thanks to the qualities of my heart and the unquestioned nobility of my birth. "Toward evening I used to talk to him. or love. Lamp in hand. I sold absolutely . The next day I had again left Paris far behind me. and would only lend myself-just as I had no wish to appropriate another's body or heart. and when I was alone to enjoy my pleasure. it was followed by boatloads of other young men and women. but before the sun rose. we tried in vain to exhaust our desires. "At thirty-five years old. The air was close and musty.' I asked them. but at such times I regretted Hilary. But I enjoyed the very fatigue these false pleasures left behind and that sick awaking which makes us realize they have turned to dust. with my taste and connoisseurship. I was able to enter upon in all loyalty. They were more precious to me than all the rest. but I blamed myself for this hankering after experience. 'do you speak to me of setting out again on my travels? I know that fresh flowers are blooming by all the roadsides. but it is you they are now waiting for.evening. "'Why. the bird by its song. I invited any casual passer-by to share it. My bedroom alone was kept ready for me. we learned to recognize the insect by its flight. hours the apartment where I bad spent my studious childhood. I formed friendships that. 1. Ah. I uncovered the furniture. I preferred the riches I found in the country. wishing to belong to all men. I took up my abode nowhere. In Venice I took part in the masquerades. or persuaded myself. w here the quiet-counseling night gave me its own interpretation of the memories of those alleys whose strange and poignant rumors reached me through a veil of ecstasy. which I invested in such a way as to have it always at my immediate disposal. "My heart. why. so leaving the sailors to their dens. I realized. his strength had made him bold. who the year before had shared and moderated the over-wildness of my moods. "In other ports. A nomad here too. "When I was fifty. our only temptation. as in nature. Bees do not go gathering honey forever. "Some people taxed me with selfishness. or without pulling the curtains that were heavy with the smell of camphor. he had an ear for harmonies. I would not give myself to any one. I would visit for a few days or a few. I became acquainted with the literatures of the world. no later glory will ever equal that adolescence of bur hearts! Rapturously inhaling every breath that blows. I would go from one room to another without opening the shutters.. which my knowledge of painting -enabled me to buy for practically nothing. as it were-overflowed in all directions. and with the money I had unintentionally saved during my vagabond existence I was able to purchase all kinds of precious and fragile objects-vases. but it would come back to me in such imperfect snatches that rather than let it make me melancholy. I refused to deprive another of what I gave to one. A concert of violas and flutes accompanied the boat in which I was love-making. every thought was a fervor. sometimes I would open one and. that I was at last ripe for some other form of existence. he was a poet himself. every feeling of singular acuity. however (not wearied of travel but feeling uneasy at the excessive pride this roving life had encouraged). My claim was not to love anyone in particular-man or woman-but friendship itself. as I passed through Paris. broke off my playing. I went back to the tranquil harbor. sometimes too I opened the grand piano and searched my memory for some tune of bygone days. and as. after a time they stay at home to guard their treasure. every hour of every day was devoted to some profitable study. I went back to the apartment I had abandoned. the hour having struck. In every natural effect we could read its cause as in an open book. crushing on our lips those hedgerow flowers that leave in the mouth a taste of honey and an exquisite bitterness. A preference seemed to me an injustice. the music had stopped and we bad fallen asleep out of weariness. it was all silence. I forgathered with the sailors of the big ships. I sold all my belongings. or affection. I taxed them with stupidity. happily forget the passing hour. He too was devoured by a thirst for -adventure. In the library-the darkest and quietest of all the rooms-the books on the shelves and tables were arranged as I had left them. which had been closed years before. I gathered knowledge. which was naturally loving-liquid. . I learned the dead languages and could read in many books. and the road that led to it never seemed interminable enough. where we strode along. and especially pictures. and yet not even they could bold me. For fifteen years I accumulated wealth like a miser. sitting beside a lighted lamp. though it was day time. rare books. I opened the windows. I learned to play many kinds of instruments. "Sometimes. We went to the Lido to watch the daybreak. and the beauty of women by their footprints in the sand. I had acquired nothing that had not increased in value. I went down with them to the ill-lit alleys of the town. history and biology interested me particularly. I gathered riches with all my capacities. We wore out our splendid youth in the expectation of a fairer future. some absent woman's care had spread sheets over the furniture. "The memory of every town was linked in my mind to the memory of a debauch.

perishes before any of the future is born. silently mounted the stairs. I have passionately worshipped. and at the present moment this garden on this Florentine hill. and went to sea with three friends. Do not think that my happiness has been made with the help of riches. I began by freighting a ship. I preferred gazing at the ocean. For each moment of our lives is essentially irreplaceable. When I had realized my fortune. the power of their presence. the solitary oaks. a white palace in Malta. at times it seemed to be really making toward the town.everything. and everything is the form of God. no doubt they were propitious. near the scented woods of Citta Vecchia. But I climbed higher still to where the waves could not reach. and a few beautiful women too. . "'Do you think that at this precise moment you can feel to the uttermost the sensation of life in all its power. in the evenings we would converse. and the noble planning of the park. Through the medium of all things without distinction. wandering boats bore us away and we lulled our loves asleep to the quiet rhythm of the oars. I had the finest trees cut down and took pleasure in laying waste my domain. rose and spread. They came on and on majestically. you live in the past and the future. and Idoine. I should like to see it more widely diffused. the last of which dipped in the waters of the lake. it was as though they were waves and were breaking here. this pulsation of your being. without either wife or child. Myrtil. "The year after that. who could talk discreetly and well. You cannot imagine. Myrtil. in this momentariness the whole past. There I gathered round me a number of the sweetest musicians. my whole love is available at every moment and ready for a fresh surprise. widening as they struck against the walls. . searching for love. All the noises from below died away as they rose. We only exist. where I have gathered you together this evening. No words can describe the appearance of the park as I strolled with my guests down the paths I had allowed to become grass-grown. looking too Iona. came to an end at the edge of the sky. Myrtil. it is forever familiar and forever strange. banging on my arm. I used to say: 'This lovely morning. In Venice I found a very beautiful courtesan. as if you were afraid of losing them. freed from all earthly ties. But you cannot forget them. but the best part of you is confined elsewhere. where the lemons have the sharp sweetness of oranges. "To Myrtil. It was to her I sold or gave my boat. the boat started awake at the shock of landing. sometimes. three nights Iona. my heart. "I lived for some months in a palace on the shores of Lake Como. and I shall die easily. "Since then my dwellings have been a chalet in the high Alps. a crew of sailors. a traveling chaise in Dalmatia. the poplar avenues. Three poets sang the welcome I offered them in my house. Drowsily we returned home. this breezy freshness. and too passionately at one blinds you to the others. unless you forget all that is not life? The habits of your mind hamper you. you might be alone on earth in the presence of God. sweet as they were. As for me. planted in regular avenues. your wife and children. but even better than his caresses. this haze and this light. all the forms in which God shows Himself. I fell in love with the least beautiful of the four. the companion of my wanderings. I spent some time in Vendee in an immense park not far from the coast. your books and studies bold it prisoner and God is robbed of it. has always been poor. they sang too the garden pools with their fishes and plants. at this very moment. All forms of God are lovable. for so beautiful was she that she made me forget the delights of my other loves. . the clumps of beeches. Myrtil. after I bad spent the whole night. would give you a far greater feeling of delight if you could abandon yourself to it entirely. The women's dresses were caught by the branches that lay across the roads. On the farthest terrace nothing could be heard but the rustle of leaves and the wild call of the night. My happiness is made of fervor. That summer I sometimes went up to this imaginary ship's bridge to enjoy the appeasing and contemplative quiet of evening after the turmoil of the streets. and immediacy. but I did not make use of them. I anchored at sunset in magic harbors. and you perceive nothing spontaneously. "And you must not say I owe my happiness to circumstances. God stands behind all your closed doors. you should learn to sink yourself in it utterly. and you carry with you all your past. When the autumn came. You imagine you are here. then we would go down to the shore by a flight of marble steps. being determined to have no personal possession on this earth-not the smallest relic of the past. I loved her. Moments! You must realize.' ". and four cabin boys. If you chose. all your loves. in the here and now. while the musicians were charming us. Evergreen oaks and enormous laurels. A splendid autumn blazed on the fallen trees. facing Fiesole. all the preoccupations of this earth. So glorious was the magnificence it laid upon them that for a long time I could think of nothing else -and I recognized this as a sign I was growing old." The monumental terrace where we were sitting (led up to by winding steps) was lofty enough to overlook the whole town and resembled a huge ship riding at anchor over the foliage of the deep woods beneath it. The blows of the woodcutters' axes resounded from one end of the avenues to the other. and left again before dawn. The fixity of your adoration grieves me. completeness.

"Desires! Beautiful desires. but let me in again to my own house-so that when you fall into your drunken sleep I may once more crown myself with purple and ivy-hide the care of my brows under a garland of ivy. they turned me out of my house. I tried to weary my desire with walking. I will bring you the juice of the grape. . . at times there seemed to spring up all round me other voices that mingled with those of my companions: We too. there were some where bees were 'busy feeding. The seat of honor was occupied by Thirst. and again I went to gather them more grapes. feathery branches." said he. Hylas was saying: And each one of my senses has had its own desires. Over the dark bills that rose on the other side of the town. though here and there were rounded balustrades that jutted out still farther and made as it were balconies in the blue. when I began to listen again. they were already drunk and rose against me with one accord. have known the lamentable sickness of our souls. starting from the terrace where I sat. and rest at ease after the heat and fatigues of the day. "a Kabyle girl." said Tibullus.. And I refused them drink. I could only fatigue my body. In the wantonest moments of pleasure.. "All pleasures are good." Hylas sang: "There are little pleasures we have tasted that are like the sour berries one pilfers by the roadside. There I used to sit. when the bird stopped singinor. or sprang out. they dragged me out of doors." Drunkenness fell upon me too and I found it difficult to go on listening. Our desires will not let us work in peace. Cleodalisa. but heard only disjointed fragments. "and should be tasted. they said. entranced in thought. "there must be a choice. there I imagined I was sailing in my ship. and one wishes they were sweeter. (There were clusters of grapes in which forgetfulness lay drowsing. This summer all my desires were thirsty. Terence was talking to Phaedra and Bachir." Farther on. she kept a disconcerting gravity." We sat down on the grass beside the spring.where the terrace itself ended. there were some where the sunshine seemed to be still lingering. drooped toward the gorgeous west. her skin was black and her flesh perfection. there was not the smallest place left for me. though they spoke of nothing but love." said Eliphas. at times.. She was the nuisance of my days and the delight of my nights." "But not all by all. the night seemed as silent as if I had been the only one to contemplate it. I will fill up your huge cups. It has watched over me all night. Every morning I find it still there. So well I knew it was drinking that had made them sick. and other thirsts wanted to take the place from him. For a moment the song of a night-bird near by held my attention more than their talk. The whole table was quarrelsome. hardly ripe. When I tried to come near the table. When I wanted ~o return home. we too. and even on its after-flagging. Now. the sky was the color of gold. It was as though they had crossed deserts. but they combined together against me. "I loved. I went from group to group. sing: . I found my manservants and maidservants seated at my tabl ' e.) One desire comes to sit at my bedside every evening." Then Simiane to Hylas: "it is a tiny fruit that should be eaten of often.

Leave me. say to yourself that it is only one of the thousand possible postures in life. Do not think your truth can be found by anyone else. As if they had crossed deserts while they slept. As snowflakes we have scudded before the wind. Do not do what someone else could do as well as you. I have taken you with me wherever I went. the conversation died away.THE ROUNDELAY OF ALL MY desires What did I dream of last night? When I awoke. uneasily we may Between desire and listlessness. When have I said that I wanted you to be like me? It. Then. I am tired of pretending I can educate anyone. Desire! Desire! What more can I do for you? What more do you want? Will you never weary? The moon showed between the branches of the ilex trees. and they lay quiet beside one another among the leaves. Nathaniel. is because you differ from me that I love you.. They have never yet been glutted. Sirniane. Educate! Whom should I educate but myself? Nathaniel. throw away my book. shall 1 tell you? I have educated myself interminably. do not write. Do not say. Desires! Will you never weary? Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! That little passing pleasure-that . Our desires have already crossed many worlds. now you are in my way.. the -Only thing I love in you is what differs from me. As seaweed the storms have rocked us.pleasure that will soon have passed! Alas! Alas! I know how to prolong my pain. I have denied you in the fields.. everyone seemed to be speaking to everyone else of love. made herself a wreath of ivy. We have climbed to the tops of towers Whence only darkness was visible. all my desires were thirsty. I have sated you with drink in the big towns-sated you without quenching your thirst. Shake yourself free of it. then rising. throw away my book. you would have no appetite for it. As locusts we have laid waste whole countries in search of food. you would not be able to sleep in it. To and fro.ore softly. as the moon disappeared behind the darkened branches of the ilex trees. be ashamed of nothing more than of that. I have lulled you to sleep on the high seas. Then even the light of the moon disappeared. Helen untwisted her hair so that it fell over her shoulders. And all nature tosses Between desire for rest and thirst for pleasure. and as camels we have browsed on the gray weeds of the shotts and sucked the sap from hollow reeds-for there is very little water in the desert. and I smelled the scent of the bruised leaves. I have exaggerated my love for you and it occupies me too much. And all mankind. Look for your own. And I have not done yet. If I found your food for you. till soon they only reached us mingled With the murmur of the stream in its mossy bed. without heeding that no one listened. vaguely listening to the one or two voices that still lingered on. I thought. for an immensity of rest! I call upon salutary death. Oh. uneasily we sway between desire and listlessness. As swallows we have flown across vast and barren seas. drowsed with enchantment and the fumes of melancholy. I lay on the ground. As lions we have roared in the Atlas. I have bathed you in moonlight nights. and Rachel went to gather wet moss to press upon her eyelids and cool them to sleep. As dogs we have howled with pain On the parching sand-hills. is like a sick man. monotonous. so that at length my exhausted desire may be freed from laboring after further metempsychoses. if I made your bed. Desire! I have dragged you with me along the highroads. Throw away my book. but how can I entice my pleasure to stay? To and fro. you hamper me. but more and a . Nathaniel. I only esteem myself for my possibilities. but lovely as ever. Leave me. They were talking now in groups and I heard only a sentence here and there. I have cradled you on the waves. tossing from side to side on his bed-_ trying to rest and unable even to sleep. what someone . ENVOI And now. do not let it satisfy you. We have cried aloud for anguish In deserted rooms.

impatiently or patiently. I slept a few hours-then. I went on my way. My head had long been swimming with fatigue. at daybreak. and out of yourself create. Nathaniel. as well as you.else could say. . ah. could write.y. I did not speak of love. I waited for morning so as to be off and take again to the fortune of the road. Care for nothing in yourself but what you feel exists nowhere else. the most irreplaceable of beings.

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