They met at my door and fought with each other over my newly created pleasure; the one crying, "It is a sin! Three days after I was born, as I lay in my silken cradle, gazing with astonished dismay on the new world round about me, my mother spoke to the wet-nurse, saying, "How does my child? And the wet-nurse answered, "He does well, madame, I have fed him three times; and never before have I seen a babe so young yet so gay.
And I was indignant; and I cried, "It is not true, mother; for my bed is hard, and the milk I have sucked is bitter to my mouth, and the odour of the breast is foul in my nostrils, and I am most miserable. But my mother did not understand, nor did the nurse; for the language I spoke was that of the world from which I came.
And I was surprised,—and I said to the priest, "Then your mother in Heaven should be unhappy, for you were not born a christian. And after seven moons, one day a soothsayer looked at me, and he said to my mother, "Your son will be a statesman and a great leader of men.
But I cried out,—"That is a false prophecy; for I shall be a musician, and naught but a musician shall I be. And yesterday I met him near the gate of the temple; and while we were talking together he said, "I have always known you would become a great musician. Even in your infancy I prophesied and foretold your future.
Once when I was living in the heart of a pomegranate, I heard a seed saying, "Someday I shall become a tree, and the wind will sing in my branches, and the sun will dance on my leaves, and I shall be strong and beautiful through all the seasons. Then another seed spoke and said, "When I was as young as you, I too held such views; but now that I can weigh and measure things, I see that my hopes were vain.
And a seventh said, "I have such a clear idea how everything will be, but I cannot put it into words.
Then an eighth spoke—and a ninth—and a tenth—and then many—until all were speaking, and I could distinguish nothing for the many voices. And so I moved that very day into the heart of a quince, where the seeds are few and almost silent. In my father's garden there are two cages. In one is a lion, which my father's slaves brought from the desert of Ninavah; in the other is a songless sparrow.
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Three ants met on the nose of a man who was lying asleep in the sun. And after they had saluted one another, each according to the custom of his tribe, they stood there conversing. The first ant said, "These hills and plains are the most barren I have known. I have searched all day for a grain of some sort, and there is none to be found. Said the second ant, "I too have found nothing, though I have visited every nook and glade.
This is, I believe, what my people call the soft, moving land where nothing grows. At that moment the man moved and in his sleep raised his hand and scratched his nose, and the three ants were crushed. Once , as I was burying one of my dead selves, the grave-digger came by and said to me, "Of all those who come here to bury, you alone I like.
Yestereve , on the marble steps of the Temple, I saw a woman sitting between two men. One side of her face was pale, the other was blushing. In my youth I was told that in a certain city every one lived according to the Scriptures. And I said, "I will seek that city and the blessedness thereof. And I made great provision for my journey.
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And after forty days I beheld the city and on the forty-first day I entered into it. And lo! And I was astonished and said to myself, "Shall they of this so holy city have but one eye and one hand? Then I saw that they too were astonished, for they were marvelling greatly at my two hands and my two eyes. And they took me to the temple in the midst of the city. And in the temple I saw a heap of hands and eyes. All withered. Then said I, "Alas! And there went a murmur amongst them. And one of their elders stood forth and said, "This doing is of ourselves. God hath made us conquerors over the evil that was in us.
And he led me to a high altar, and all the people followed. And he showed me above the altar an inscription graven, and I read:. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee; for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. Then I understood.
And I turned about to all the people and cried, "Hath no man or woman among you two eyes or two hands? And they answered me saying, "No, not one.
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There is none whole save such as are yet too young to read the Scripture and to understand its commandment. And when we had come out of the temple, I straightway left that Blessed City; for I was not too young, and I could read the scripture. The Good God and the Evil God met on the mountain top. Defeat , my Defeat, my solitude and my aloofness; You are dearer to me than a thousand triumphs, And sweeter to my heart than all world-glory. Defeat, my Defeat, my self-knowledge and my defiance, Through you I know that I am yet young and swift of foot And not to be trapped by withering laurels.
And in you I have found aloneness And the joy of being shunned and scorned. Defeat, my Defeat, my bold companion, You shall hear my songs and my cries and my silences, And none but you shall speak to me of the beating of wings, And urging of seas, And of mountains that burn in the night, And you alone shall climb my steep and rocky soul. I have seen a face with a thousand countenances, and a face that was but a single countenance as if held in a mould.
I have seen a face whose sheen I could look through to the ugliness beneath, and a face whose sheen I had to lift to see how beautiful it was. I have seen an old face much lined with nothing, and a smooth face in which all things were graven. I know faces, because I look through the fabric my own eye weaves, and behold the reality beneath. My soul and I went to the great sea to bathe. And when we reached the shore, we went about looking for a hidden and lonely place.
But as we walked, we saw a man sitting on a grey rock taking pinches of salt from a bag and throwing them into the sea.
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We walked on until we reached an inlet. There we saw, standing on a white rock, a man holding a bejewelled box, from which he took sugar and threw it into the sea. Further on we walked. And on a beach we saw a man picking up dead fish and tenderly putting them back into the water.
Then we came where we saw a man tracing his shadow on the sand. Great waves came and erased it. But he went on tracing it again and again. And we walked on, till in a quiet cove we saw a man scooping up the foam and putting it into an alabaster bowl. And on we walked. Suddenly we heard a voice crying, "This is the sea. This is the vast and mighty sea. And my soul said, "Let us pass on.
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He is the realist, who turns his back on the whole he cannot grasp, and busies himself with a fragment. So we passed on. And in a weedy place among the rocks was a man with his head buried in the sand. And I said to my soul, "We can bathe here, for he cannot see us. And when I was hanged between earth and heaven they lifted up their heads to see me.
And they were exalted, for their heads had never before been lifted. I do not atone—nor sacrifice—nor wish for glory; and I have nothing to forgive. I thirsted—and I besought you to give me my blood to drink. For what is there can quench a madman's thirst but his own blood? I was dumb—and I asked wounds of you for mouths. I was imprisoned in your days and nights—and I sought a door into larger days and nights. And now I go—as others already crucified have gone. And think not we are weary of crucifixion.