Three months later I went into the abandoned workshop to help evaluate his small amount of property. Everything was damp and black as in a vault. The leather of the bellows was filled with holes where it had rotted. When we tried to pull the chain it came loose from the wood. And the simple people who were making the appraisal with me declared:
“This forge and these hammers are worn out. They ended their life with the master.”
Then I was moved, because I understood the mysterious meaning of these words.
Brilliant sisters of the torrents that I find on the shore of the Alpine lake: you are the stones loved by the rainbow and the azure cold, on you falls the white salt which is licked up by the lambs, you are mirrors whose light is iridescent as the pigeon’s breast, you have more eyes than the peacock, you are crystallized by fire and your veins of snow have become eternal, you have been the companions of primordial cataclysms, you were washed by the sea and then rocked by it until the dove from the ark cooed with love at sight of you....
The gleaming grain of your flesh at times has the blue-veined whiteness of a child’s wrist, at times it has the golden coppery hue of the thigh of a heavy and beautiful woman, sometimes it is silvered with mica like a cheek in the sunlight, sometimes it is brown like the complexion of those in whom the dead blondness of tobacco is blended with the gold of the mandarin orange.
You are stones that have been broken by the heart of the torrent, you have been dashed against each other and have been tossed about amid the daphnes of the ravine, you have been whipped by hailstorms and tempest, buried under the avalanche, uncovered by the sun, loosened by the feet of the chamois, you are cold and beautiful but above all else you are pure.
I know little of your sisters of the Indies: either of her whose transparency rivals water gushing from marble, or of her who makes me dream of the clear meadows of my native valley, or of her who is a drop of frozen blood, or of her who resembles the solid sun.
I prefer you to them, even though you are less precious. Sometimes you support the beams of thatched roofs while you gaze at the star-dotted sky, sometimes it is on you that the sheep-dog stretches himself as he mournfully guards his flock.
At the heart of the ether where you rest upon the summits may you continue to receive the nourishment with which your peaceful kingdom is endowed, may the light bathe your cells which are still unrecognized, may buoyant flakes and curves steep them, may they resound to the vibration of the winds, may they receive at last that harmonious manna which stilled the hunger of Mary Magdalene in the grotto.
Around you will bloom your sweethearts, the purest flowers of the world, but they are already less chaste than you for they have a perfume of snow.