THE PRINCE'S SONG
'Why so sad?' asked the prince of Sudanenka.
'Not sad', replied the holy man, for sadness implies that I am not content, and sadness is nothing more than joy's excretion. It is the inward, not the outward, in the matter of joy and wisdom, that gives delight; and thus so, it is impossible to communicate the joy between heart and heart, for words are false...'
'I must disagree' interrupted the prince, 'for existence is richer for the word. Without the word, how could thoughts be projected and made solid?'
'Language is a lie! Yet a good one at that!' laughed Sudanenka.
'I'm glad to see you laugh, but can you deny the beauty of words; are you unmoved by such excesses of rhythm and beauty; are you not stirred like a mountain stream, into a torrent of emotion?'
'If the stream be clear, you leave it alone: you do not stir it into mud!'
The prince grew decidedly angry at his friend's reaction and so he began to recite a poem he had written, long, long ago:
'Heart, heart, you have looked into the light,
You have seen the morning blossom in the miracle of night;
And sadness dipped with danger has strangely torn apart,
Love's eternal beauty, in the rapture of the heart.
And the all-consuming flame hath devoured all life from love,
And the dream within the dream is the serpent and the dove.
Then radiate despair, for I can no longer know
What mystery awakes in the heart that leaves you so.
For the heart hath no beginning and the heart it hath no end;
No simple course of nature and no will to comprehend
The light that leaves its embers cold, by the morning light;
Or the tragedy of strangers, grown stranger by the night.
Heart, heart, I curse the solemn air
For you hath given beauty, when beauty was not there.
But take the shadow's softness, and those measurements I know
Of the heart and its caress, that deceived me long ago'.
The prince looked towards Sudanenka, who sat as still as a statue. And the holy man said in a low voice:
'A work of beauty indeed, but...
Hath not a potato eyes, yet can it see?
Hath not a poem feet, yet can it walk?
Hath not a cave a mouth, yet can it speak?
Does a watch: watch? And can a clock hold hands?
When paper tears, does it cry? And
Can a camel walk on water as it walks upon the sand?' (2)