the bird, and we ate it, and no meal had
ever tasted better to us. And we thought
suddenly that there was a great satisfaction
to be found in the food which we need
and obtain by our own hand. And we wished
to be hungry again and soon, that we might
know again this strange new pride in eating.
Then we walked on. And we came to a
stream which lay as a streak of glass among
the trees. It lay so still that we saw no
water but only a cut in the earth, in which
the trees grew down, upturned, and the
sky lay at the bottom. We knelt by
the stream and we bent down to drink.
And then we stopped. For, upon the blue
of the sky below us, we saw our own face
for the first time.
We sat still and we held our breath.
For our face and our body were beautiful.
Our face was not like the faces of our brothers,
for we felt not pity when looking upon it.
Our body was not like the bodies of our brothers,
for our limbs were straight and thin and hard and strong.
And we thought that we could trust this being who looked
upon us from the stream, and that we had nothing to fear
with this being.
We walked on till the sun had set.
When the shadows gathered among the trees,
we stopped in a hollow between the roots,
where we shall sleep tonight. And suddenly,
for the first time this day, we remembered
that we are the Damned. We remembered it,
and we laughed.
We are writing this on the paper we had
hidden in our tunic together with the
written pages we had brought for the World
Council of Scholars, but never given to them.
We have much to speak of to ourselves,
and we hope we shall find the words
for it in the days to come. Now, we
cannot speak, for we cannot understand.
We have not written for many days.
We did not wish to speak. For we needed
no words to remember that which has happened to us.
It was on our second day in the forest that
we heard steps behind us. We hid in the bushes,
and we waited. The steps came closer.
And then we saw the fold of a white tunic
among the trees, and a gleam of gold.
We leapt forward, we ran to them, and
we stood looking upon the Golden One.
They saw us, and their hands closed into
fists, and the fists pulled their arms down,
as if they wished their arms to hold them,
while their body swayed. And they could
We dared not come too close to them.
We asked, and our voice trembled:
“How did you come to be here, Golden One?”
But they whispered only:
“We have found you. . . .”
“How did you come to be in the forest?”
They raised their head, and there was a
great pride in their voice; they answered:
“We have followed you.”
Then we could not speak, and they said:
“We heard that you had gone to the
Uncharted Forest, for the whole City is
speaking of it. So on the night of the day
when we heard it, we ran away from the Home
of the Peasants. We found the marks of
your feet across the plain where no men walk.
So we followed them, and we went into the forest,
and we followed the path where the branches
were broken by your body.”
Their white tunic was torn, and the
branches had cut the skin of their arms,
but they spoke as if they had never taken
notice of it, nor of weariness, nor of fear.
“We have followed you,” they said,
“and we shall follow you wherever you go.
If danger threatens you, we shall face it also.
If it be death, we shall die with you. You are damned,
and we wish to share your damnation.”
They looked upon us, and their voice was low,
but there was bitterness and triumph in their voice.
“Your eyes are as a flame, but our brothers
have neither hope nor fire. Your mouth
is cut of granite, but our brothers are soft
and humble. Your head is high, but our
brothers cringe. You walk, but our
brothers crawl. We wish to be damned with you,
rather than blessed with all our brothers.
Do as you please with us, but do not send
us away from you.”
Then they knelt, and bowed their golden
head before us.
We had never thought of that which we did.
We bent to raise the Golden One to their feet,
but when we touched them, it was as if madness
had stricken us. We seized their body
and we pressed our lips to theirs.
The Golden One breathed once,
and their breath was a moan,
and then their arms closed around us.
We stood together for a long time.
And we were frightened that we had lived
for twenty-one years and had never known
what joy is possible to men.
Then we said:
“Our dearest one. Fear nothing of the forest.
There is no danger in solitude. We have
no need of our brothers. Let us forget
their good and our evil, let us forget
all things save that we are together
and that there is joy as a bond between us.
Give us your hand. Look ahead. It is our
own world, Golden One, a strange,
unknown world, but our own.”
Then we walked on into the forest, their
hand in ours.
And that night we knew that to hold the
body of women in our arms is neither ugly
nor shameful, but the one ecstasy granted
to the race of men.
We have walked for many days. The forest
has no end, and we seek no end. But each day
added to the chain of days between us
and the City is like an added blessing.
We have made a bow and many arrows.
We can kill more birds than we need for
our food; we find water and fruit in the
forest. At night, we choose a clearing, and
we build a ring of fires around it. We sleep
in the midst of that ring, and the beasts
dare not attack us. We can see their eyes,
green and yellow as coals, watching us from
the tree branches beyond. The fires smoulder
as a crown of jewels around us, and smoke
stands still in the air, in columns made blue
by the moonlight. We sleep together in the
midst of the ring, the arms of the Golden
One around us, their head upon our breast.
Some day, we shall stop and build a house,
when we shall have gone far enough.
But we do not have to hasten. The days
before us are without end, like the forest.
We cannot understand this new life
which we have found, yet it seems so clear
and so simple. When questions come to
puzzle us, we walk faster, then turn and
forget all things as we watch the Golden
One following. The shadows of leaves fall
upon their arms, as they spread the branches
apart, but their shoulders are in the sun.
The skin of their arms is like a blue mist,
but their shoulders are white and glowing,
as if the light fell not from above, but rose
from under their skin. We watch the leaf
which has fallen upon their shoulder, and
it lies at the curve of their neck, and a
drop of dew glistens upon it like a jewel.
They approach us, and they stop, laughing,
knowing what we think, and they wait
obediently, without questions, till it
pleases us to turn and go on.
We go on and we bless the earth under
our feet. But questions come to us again,
as we walk in silence. If that which we
have found is the corruption of solitude,
then what can men wish for save corruption?
If this is the great evil of being alone,
then what is good and what is evil?
Everything which comes from the many is good.
Everything which comes from one is evil.
This have we been taught with our first breath.
We have broken the law, but we have never doubted it.
Yet now, as we walk through the forest,
we are learning to doubt.
There is no life for men, save in useful
toil for the good of all their brothers.
But we lived not, when we toiled for our
brothers, we were only weary. There is no
joy for men, save the joy shared with all
their brothers. But the only things which
taught us joy were the power we created
in our wires, and the Golden One. And both
these joys belong to us alone, they come
from us alone, they bear no relation