Thursday, November 25, 2010

the leaves

The following was written by a German pornographer in 1928. It is my personal all-time favorite literary passage.


The leaves were falling from the great maple at the meadow's edge. They were falling from all the trees. One branch of the maple reached high above the others and stretched far out over the meadow. Two leaves clung to its very tip.

"It isn't the way it used to be." said one leaf to the other.

"No," the other leaf answered. "So many of us have fallen off tonight we're almost the only ones left on the branch."

"You never know who's going to go next," said the second leaf. "Even when it was warm and the sun shone, a storm or a cloudburst would come sometimes, and many leaves were torn off, though they were still very young. You never know who's going to go next."

"The sun hardly shines now," sighed the first leaf, "and when it does, it gives no warmth. We must have warmth again. Can it be true, can it really be true, that others come to take our places when we're gone and after them still others, and more and more?"

"It really is true," whispered the second leaf. "We can't even begin to imagine it, it's beyond our powers."

"It makes me very sad," added the first leaf.

They were very silent a while.

Then the first leaf said quietly to itself, "Why must we fall? What happens to us when we have fallen? "

The second leaf replied, "We sink down ."

"What is under us?"

The second leaf answered, "I don't know. Some say one thing, some another, but nobody knows."

The first leaf asked, "Do we feel anything, do we know anything about ourselves when we're down there?"

The second leaf answered, "Who knows? Not one of all those down there has ever come back to tell us about it."

They were silent again. Then the second leaf said tenderly to the other, "Don't worry so much about it you're trembling."

"That's nothing," the first leaf answered, I tremble at the least thing now. I don't feel so sure of my hold as I used to."

"Let's not talk any more about such things," said the second leaf.

The other replied, "No, we'll let it be. But-what else shall we talk about?" It was silent, but went on after a little while, "Which of us will go first?"

"There's still plenty of time to worry about that," the other leaf said reassuringly. "Lets remember how beautiful it was, how wonderful, when the sun came out and shone so warmly that we thought we'd burst with life. Do you remember? And the morning dew and the mild and splendid nights!

"Now the nights are dreadful," the first leaf complained, " and there is no end to them."

"We shouldn't complain, " said the second leaf gently. "We've outlived many, many others."

"Have I changed much?" asked the first leaf shyly.

"Not in the least," the second leaf said. "You think so only because I've gotton to be so yellow and ugly. But it's different in your case."

"You're fooling me," the first leaf said.

"No, really," the first leaf answered eagerly, "believe me, you're as lovely as the day you were born. Here and there may be a little yellow spot. But it's hardly noticeable and makes you only more beautiful, believe me."

"Thanks," whispered the first leaf, quite touched. I don't believe you, not altogether, but I thank you because you're so kind. You've always been so kind to me. I'm just beginning to understand how kind you are."

" Hush," said the other leaf, and kept silent itself, for it was too troubled to talk any more. Then they were both silent. Hours passed. A moist wind blew, cold and hostile, through the treetops."

"Ah, now," said the first leaf, "I . . . "

Then its voice broke off. It was torn from its place and spun down.

Winter had come.

From the book: "Bambi", by Felix Salten written in 1928

1 comment:

Lydia said...

ohhh this is so beautiful. Made me all teary.

I'm thankful for you, your blog, and your beautiful and funny stories.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

WV: sadderge - I sang a sadderge for the little leaves...