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by [?]

As I turned to go, he held up his hand, “Listen to the birds!” he said. We were silent, and could hear the clear flute-like notes of thrushes hidden in the tall trees, and the soft cooing of a dove. “That gives one,” he said, “some sense of the happiness which one cannot capture for oneself!” He smiled mournfully, and in a moment I saw his light figure receding among the trees. What a world it is for sorrow! My friend was going, bearing the burden of a lonely grief, which I could not lighten for him; and yet the whole scene was full of so sweet a content, the birds full of hope and delight, the flowers and leaves glad to feel themselves alive. What was one to make of it all? Where to turn for light? What conceivable benefit could result from thus perpetually desiring to know and perpetually being baffled?

Yet, after all, to-day has been one of those rare days, like the gold sifted from the debris of the mine, which has had for me, by some subtle alchemy of the spirit, the permanent quality which is often denied to more stirring incidents and livelier experiences. I had seen the mysteries of life and death, of joy and sorrow, sharply and sadly contrasted. I had been one with Nature, with all her ardent ecstasies, her vital impulses; and then I had seen too the other side of the picture, a soul confronted with the mystery of death, alone in the shapeless gloom; the very cries and stirrings and joyful dreams of Nature bringing no help, but only deepening the shadow.

And there came too the thought of how little such easy speculations as we had indulged in on the grassy mound, thoughts which seemed so radiant with beauty and mystery, how little they could sustain or comfort the sad spirit which had entered into the cloud.

So that bright first day of spring shaped itself for me into a day when not only the innocent and beautiful flowers of the world rose into life and sunshine; but a day when sadder thoughts raised their head too, red flowers of suffering, and pale blooms of sadness; and yet these too can be woven into the spirit’s coronal, I doubt not, if one can but find heart to do it, and patience for the sorrowful task.