"The Silence "
Translated into English by John Van de Graaff from a Dutch translation of the original in French, by Maurice Maeterlinck, Paris, 1896, entitled “Le Silence”, from “Le tresor des humbles”.
If it so happens that you are given a moment to descend into your soul – to the depths where angels dwell – then, rather than the words your loved one has spoken, you will recall the moments of silence which you have experienced together.
I hereby refer to an active silence: there is a passive silence which is nothing else but a consequence of sleep, death or non-existence. That is a sleeping silence. Through some unexpected event its brother, the great active silence, may take its place. Now pay attention. Two souls will now find each other, the walls crumble, the dams will break, and normal life makes way for a life where everything is serious, everything vulnerable, where one forgets nothing any more ......
And it is just because everyone knows this secret power and its dangerous effect, that we have such a great fear for silence. If necessary we will suffer a lonely silence, our private silence: but the silence of many persons, the communal silence, and the silence of a large crowd, seems an unbearable burden. We spend a great deal of our lives seeking those places which are not governed by silence.
Most of us permit entry for the silence only two or three times in our lives. And we only dare to do so during solemn occasions and everyone then receives this silence in an honourable manner, because even the most simple people have moments in their lives when they act as if they already knew that which the gods know.
Do you remember the day when you, undaunted, had your first meeting with silence? The feared time had arrived and the silence met with your soul. You did not flee. On the occasion of a renewed acquaintance, or just before a parting, at a moment of intense joy, in the presence of death, or at the edge of danger. Do you remember the moments when all the hidden jewels saw the light of day and the slumbering truths suddenly awoke, and tell me then how good and necessary this silence was.
The kisses of the luckless silence – because
silence grips us especially when in the throes of misfortune – are never
forgotten, and therefore those who have experienced these more than
others are richer than others.
Maybe it is only they who know the silent and deep waters that
support the thin layer of daily life.