Chapter 28: The Farewell
And now it was evening.
And Almitra the seeress said, "Blessed be this day and this place and your spirit that has spoken."
And he answered, Was it I who spoke? Was I not also a listener?
Then he descended the steps of the Temple and all the people followed him. And he reached his ship and stood upon the deck.
And facing the people again, he raised his voice and said:
People of Orphalese, the wind bids me leave you.
Less hasty am I than the wind, yet I must go.
We wanderers, ever seeking the lonelier way, begin no day where we have ended another day; and no sunrise finds us where sunset left us.
Even while the earth sleeps we travel.
We are the seeds of the tenacious plant, and it is in our ripeness and our fullness of heart that we are given to the wind and are scattered.
Brief were my days among you, and briefer still the words I have spoken.
But should my voice fade in your ears, and my love vanish in your memory, then I will come again,
And with a richer heart and lips more yielding to the spirit will I speak.
Yea, I shall return with the tide,
And though death may hide me, and the greater silence enfold me, yet again will I seek your understanding.
And not in vain will I seek.
If aught I have said is truth, that truth shall reveal itself in a clearer voice, and in words more kin to your thoughts.
I go with the wind, people of Orphalese, but not down into emptiness;
And if this day is not a fulfillment of your needs and my love, then let it be a promise till another day. Know therefore, that from the greater silence I shall return.
The mist that drifts away at dawn, leaving but dew in the fields, shall rise and gather into a cloud and then fall down in rain.
And not unlike the mist have I been.
In the stillness of the night I have walked in your streets, and my spirit has entered your houses,
And your heart-beats were in my heart, and your breath was upon my face, and I knew you all.
Ay, I knew your joy and your pain, and in your sleep your dreams were my dreams.
And oftentimes I was among you a lake among the mountains.
I mirrored the summits in you and the bending slopes, and even the passing flocks of your thoughts and your desires.
And to my silence came the laughter of your children in streams, and the longing of your youths in rivers.
And when they reached my depth the streams and the rivers ceased not yet to sing.
But sweeter still than laughter and greater than longing came to me.
It was boundless in you;
The vast man in whom you are all but cells and sinews;
He in whose chant all your singing is but a soundless throbbing.
It is in the vast man that you are vast,
And in beholding him that I beheld you and loved you.
For what distances can love reach that are not in that vast sphere?
What visions, what expectations and what presumptions can outsoar that flight?
Like a giant oak tree covered with apple blossoms is the vast man in you.
His mind binds you to the earth, his fragrance lifts you into space, and in his durability you are deathless.
You have been told that, even like a chain, you are as weak as your weakest link.
This is but half the truth. You are also as strong as your strongest link.
To measure you by your smallest deed is to reckon the power of ocean by the frailty of its foam.
To judge you by your failures is to cast blame upon the seasons for their inconsistency.
Ay, you are like an ocean,
And though heavy-grounded ships await the tide upon your shores, yet, even like an ocean, you cannot hasten your tides.
And like the seasons you are also,
And though in your winter you deny your spring,
Yet spring, reposing within you, smiles in her drowsiness and is not offended.
Think not I say these things in order that you may say the one to the other, "He praised us well. He saw but the good in us."
I only speak to you in words of that which you yourselves know in thought.
And what is word knowledge but a shadow of wordless knowledge?
Your thoughts and my words are waves from a sealed memory that keeps records of our yesterdays,
And of the ancient days when the earth knew not us nor herself,
And of nights when earth was upwrought with confusion,
Wise men have come to you to give you of their wisdom. I came to take of your wisdom:
And behold I have found that which is greater than wisdom.
It is a flame spirit in you ever gathering more of itself,
While you, heedless of its expansion, bewail the withering of your days.
It is life in quest of life in bodies that fear the grave.
There are no graves here.