Sunday, March 14, 2004

I liked so much the way she would suddenly sit down on a wall, or a broken pillar in that shattered backyard to Pompey's pillar, and be plunged in an inextinguishable sorrow at some idea whose impact had only just made itself felt in her mind.

"You really believe so?" she would say with such sorrow that one was touched and amused at the same time. "And why do you smile? You always smile at the most serious things. Ah! surely you should be sad?" If she ever knew me at all she must later have discovered that for those of us who feel deeply and who are at all conscious of the inextricable tangle of human thought there is only one response to be made - ironic tenderness and silence.

In a night so brilliant with stars where the glow-worms in the shrill dry grass gave back their ghostly mauve lambence to the sky there was nothing else to do but sit by her side, stroking that dark head of beautiful hair and saying nothing.

Underneath, like a dark river, the noble quotation which Balthazar had taken as text and which he read in a voice which trembled with emotion and partly with the fatigue of so much abstract thought: "The day of the corpora is the night for the spiritus. When the bodies cease their labour the spirits in man begin their work. The waking of the body is the sleep of the spirit and the spirit's sleep a waking for the body"

-From Durrell's Justine

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