Verse > Anthologies > Robert Bridges, ed. > The Spirit of Man: An Anthology

Robert Bridges, ed. (1844–1930).  The Spirit of Man: An Anthology.  1916.
From Resurrection

Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910)
.. NEHHLYUDOR 1 sat down on the steps of the porch, and inhaling the strong scent of the young birch-leaves which filled the warm air, gazed long at the garden as it gradually darkened in the failing light. He listened to the thud of the mill-wheel, and to the nightingales, and some other bird that whistled monotonously in a bush close by the steps … [Presently] in the east, behind the coach-house, flamed the glow of the rising moon: summer lightning ever more brightly began to illumine the rank-flowering neglected garden, and the dilapidated house, and distant thunder could be heard, where in the west a black cloud was towering upwards overspreading the sky.  1
  The moon, but just past her full, emerged from behind the coach-house and glistening on the iron roof of the tumble-down house threw black shadows across the courtyard.  2
  Nehhlyudor remembered how at Kuzminskoye he had meditated on his life and tried to solve the questions, what he ought to do, and how he ought to do it; and he remembered how he had become perplexed in these questions and had been unable to decide them, so many were the considerations involved in each. He now put to himself the same questions, and was astonished how simple it all was. It was simple because he now took no thought of what would happen to himself:—that no longer even interested him,—he was thinking only of what he ought to do. And strangely enough, while he was not considering his own needs, he knew without any doubt what he ought to do for others ..  3
  The black cloud had moved on till it stood right above him: lightning lit up the whole courtyard and the thunder sounded directly overhead. The birds had all ceased singing, the leaves began to rustle, and the first flaws of the storm-wind reached the steps where he sat … Nehhlyudor went into the house. ‘Yes, yes,’ he thought, ‘The work which is carried out by our life, the whole work, the whole meaning of this work is dark to me, and cannot be made intelligible … Why should my friend die, and I be left alive?.. Why was Katyusha born?.. Why did this war come about? Of what use was my subsequent dissolute life? To understand all this, to understand the whole work of the Master is not in my power; but to do his will, written in my conscience, that is in my power, and that I know without a doubt. And when I do this, then undoubtedly I am at peace.’  4
Note 1. Tolstoi. ‘Resurrection’, ii. 12, (see 52). [back]

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