And the poet dreamed of the first woman he had loved.
And his guardian-angel said to him:
“This love was so pure and so sad that it did not offend me.”
And as they walked along, the shade was sweet. Lambs passed by. And seeing the sadness of the poet the divine spirit had on his lips a smile, grave and gentle like that of a dying mother. And the trembling of his golden wings pursued the whispers of the evening.
* * * * *
Soon the stars were lighted in the silence.
And the sky resembled a father’s bed surrounded by wax tapers and dumb sorrows. And the night seemed like a great widow kneeling upon the earth.
“Do you recognize this?” asked the angel.
The poet made no answer but knelt down.
* * * * *
Finally they reached the end of the road near the small quiet grave overgrown with brambles, nettles, and soapwort.
And the angel said to the poet:
“I wished to show you your way. Here you will sleep, not far from the waters. Every day they will bring you the image of your memories: the azure of the kingfisher like your mother’s eyes, the down of the turtle-dove like her sweetness, the echo of the leaves like the grave calm voice of your father, the reflected brightness of the road white as your first communion, and the form of your beloved supple as a poplar.
“At last the waters will bring you the great luminous Night.”
One day the books which contained the wisdom of men disappeared by enchantment.
Then the great scholars assembled: those who were engaged in mathematics, in physics, in chemistry, in astronomy, in poetry, in history, and in other arts and letters.
They held counsel and said:
“We are the custodians of human genius. We will recall the noblest inventions of the wisest of men and the greatest of poets and have them graven in immortal marble. They will represent only the supreme summits of achievement since the beginning of the world. Pascal shall be entitled to but one thought, Newton to but one star, Darwin to but one insect, Galileo to but one grain of dust, Tolstoi to but one charity, Heinrich Heine to but one verse, Shakespeare to but one cry, Wagner to but one note....”
Then as the scholars summoned their thoughts to recall the masterpieces indispensable to the salvation of man, they realized with terror that their brains were void.
THE TWO GREAT ACTRESSES
I wish I could find new words to depict the gentleness of a little prostitute whom we met one evening in the center of a large, almost deserted square. The little prostitute was wearing wretched boots that were too large and soaked up the water. She had a parasol covered like an umbrella, and a little straw hat, the lining of which surely bore the words: Derniere mode.