... I felt my position keenly for a moment today. The whistle of the engine at 3.19 told me that Mathilde was leaving. Like a beast in a cage I positively ran to and fro along the wall where I usually “go for a walk”. My heart throbbed with pain as I said to myself, “If only I too could get away from here, if only I too could get away!”. Oh, well, this heart of mine has become like a well trained dog; I gave it a slap and told it to lie down.
Enough of me and my troubles.
Sonichka, do you remember what we settled to do as soon as the war is over, how we decided to go to the south. We’ll keep to that plan. I know your fancy is to go with me to Italy, the goal of your desire.
My plan is to carry you of to Corsica. That is even finer than Italy. In Corsica one can forget Europe, or at any rate modern Europe. Picture to yourself a vast landscape in the heroic style, mountains and valleys sharply cut; above, nothing but bare masses of lovely grey rock; below luxuriant olive groves, cherry-laurels, and venerable Spanish chestnut trees. Over all there broods a primeval stillness.
There is neither voice of man nor song of bird, only the ripple of a streamlet as it courses down its stony bed, or the murmur of the wind through the fissures in the rocks overhead – still the same wind that bellied the sail of Odysseus. Such human beings as you do meet are in perfect accord with the landscape. Round a turn of the mountain path there will suddenly appear some peasants walking in Indian file, for the Corsicans never go about in groups like our peasants.
Usually a dog leads the way; then at a slow march comes a goat perhaps, or a donkey laden with sacks full of chestnuts; next a great mule, on which sits a woman sideways, her legs hanging straight down, a child in her arms; she is bolt upright, slender as a cypress, and makes no movement. Beside her strides a bearded man whose demeanour is calm and confident. Both are silent. You would take your oath that they are the Holy Family. Such a scene is frequently to be witnessed. Every time I was so profoundly stirred that involuntarily I wanted to kneel, which is always my inclination when I see anything perfectly beautiful. There the Bible is still a living reality, and so is the classical world.
We must go, and just in the way I went. We must wander all over the island, sleeping every night in a different place, and always afoot to greet the sunrise. Does not that tempt you? I should love to introduce you to this new world ...
Keep up your reading, you must go on with your mental training, and it will be quite easy for you since your mind is still fresh and pliable. No more today. Be cheerful and serene.
Last updated on: 16.12.2008