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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
From the ‘Journal’ of Maurice de Guérin
By Eugénie (1805–1848) and Maurice (1810–1839) de Guérin
 
IT has just been raining. Nature is fresh and radiant; the earth seems to taste with rapture the water which brings it life. One would say that the throats of the birds had also been refreshed by the rain; their song is purer, more vivacious, more brilliant, and vibrates wonderfully in the air, which has become more sonorous and resounding. The nightingales, the bullfinches, the blackbirds, the thrushes, the golden orioles, the finches, the wrens,—all these sing and rejoice. A goose, shrieking like a trumpet, adds by contrast to the charm. The motionless trees seem to listen to all these sounds. Innumerable apple-trees in full bloom look like balls of snow in the distance; the cherry-trees, all white as well, rise like pyramids or spread out like fans of flowers. The birds seem at times to aim at those orchestral effects when all the instruments are blended in a mass of harmony. Would that we could identify ourselves with spring; that we could go so far as to believe that in ourselves breathe all the life and all the love that ferment in nature; that we could feel ourselves to be at the same time verdure, bird, song, freshness, elasticity, rapture, serenity! What then should I become? There are moments when by dint of concentrating ourselves upon this idea and gazing fixedly on nature, we fancy that we experience something like this….  1
  Nothing can more faithfully represent this state of the soul than the shades of evening, falling at this very moment. Gray clouds just edged with silver cover the whole face of the sky. The sun, which set but a few moments ago, has left behind light enough to temper for a while the black shadows, and to soften in a measure the fall of night. The winds are hushed, and the peaceful ocean, as I come to listen on the threshold of the door, sends me only a melodious murmur which softly spreads over the soul like a beautiful wave over the beach. The birds, the first to feel the influence of the night, fly toward the woods, and their wings rustle in the clouds. The coppice, which covers the entire slope of the hill of Le Val, and resounds all day long with the chirps of the wren, the gay whistle of the woodpecker, and the various notes of a multitude of birds, has no more a sound along its path or within its thickets, unless it be the shrill call of the blackbirds as they play together and chase one another, after the other birds have hidden their heads under their wings. The noise of men, always the last to become silent, gradually dies away over the face of the fields. The general uproar ceases, and not a sound is heard except from the towns and hamlets, where, far into the night, the children cry and the dogs bark. Silence enwraps me; all things yearn for rest except my pen, which disturbs perchance the slumber of some living atom asleep in the folds of my note-book, for it makes its little sound as it writes these idle thoughts. Then let it cease; for what I write, have written, and shall write will never be worth the sleep of a single atom.  2
 
 
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