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Birds, Rain and Sunshine (Maurice de Guérin, Journal)

Dernière mise à jour : 29 juin

Journal of Maurice de Guérin

Edited by G. S. Trébutien.

April 25. — 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 this rain ; their song is purer, more vivacious. more brilliant, and vibrâtes wonderfully in the air, which has becom.e most sonorous and resounding. The nightingales, the bulllinches, 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 where 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, flower, 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.

May - 1st. — Oh, how forlorn it is ! — wind, rain, cold. This first day of May gives me the idea of a wedding-day which has become a funeral-day. Last evening the moon, the stars, the azure, the limpidness, the clearness, were enough to fill one with rapture. To-day I have seen nothing but showers rushing after each other in great columns through the air, chased wildly along by a mad wind. I have heard nothing but this same wind moaning all around me with those woful and sinister groans which it finds or learns I know not where ; one would say that it was a breath of evil, of calaniity, of all the afflictions which I fancy to be floating in our atmosphere, shaking our houses and coming to chant, at all our windows, its mournful prophecies. This wind, whatever it may be, while it moved my soul to sadness by its mysterious power, unsettled Nature without by its material influence, and perhaps also by something more. — for who can say that we know the full extent of the relations and the intercourse of the elements with each other ?

Through my windows I have watched this wind raging against the trees and driving them to despair. It sometimes burst over the forest with such impetuosity that it convulsed it like the sea, and I fancied I saw the entire forest revolve and spin upon its roots, like an immense whirlwind. The four great fir-trees behind the house were from time to time lashed with such fury that thev seemed to be seized with frisfht, and uttered, as it were, cries of terror. enough to make one tremble. The birds which ventured to take wing were carried along like straws ; I saw them drifting rapidly away, giving scarcely any sign of their feeble struggle against the current, and being at most just able to keep their wings extended. Those that remain still hidden give barely a few signs of life by beginning a song which they never finish. The flowers are bruised and crumpled. and all is desolate. I am sadder than in winter.

On such days a sort of strange despair makes itself fait at the bottom of my soul, in the most internal, in the deepest part of its substance ; it is like desolation and darkness outside of God. Oh, my God, why should my rest be troubled by what passes in the air, and the peace of my soul be thus given over to the will of the winds ? Ah, it is that I know not how to rule myself, that my will is not united to Thine ; and as there is nothing else by which it can be guided, I have become the plaything of all that breathes upon the earth.

3rd. — Joyous day, full of sunshine, warm breeze, perfumes in the air, felicity in the soul. The verdure visibly increases ; it has sprung from the garden to the thicket ; it has gained possession of the whole length of the pond ; it bounds, so to speak, from tree to tree, from thicket to thicket, in the fields and on the hillsides, and I can see that it has already reached the forest, and is beginning to spread over its broad back. Soon it will extend as far as the eye can reach ; and all these broad expanses, bounded by the horizon, will sway and surge like a vast sea, — a sea of emerald. Yet a few more days. and we shall have all the pomp, all the display, of the vegetable kingdom.

9th. — Five or six days of sunshine without the shadow of a cloud. The unfolding of the

verdure is almost completed. Nature has decked herself with all her jewels. She is at that unique point of freshness, of purity, and of grace which one should make haste to grasp, for it soon passes away. The leaves which opened yesterday are of a transparent green, and as tender as the dew ; I hardly dare to touch them for fear of bruising them.

12nd. — There are no more flowers on the trees. Their mission of love accomplished, they have died, like a mother who expires in giving birth. The fruits have set ; they inhale that vital and reproductive energy which is to produce new individuals. An innumerable generation is at this moment hanging from the branches of all the trees, from the fibres of the humblest grasses, like children on the maternal bosom. All these germs, incalculable in their number and diversity, are swinging in their cradle between heaven and earth, given over to the care of the winds, whose charge it is to rock these new-born creatures. Future forests sway unseen on living forests. All Nature is full of the cares of her immense maternity.

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