Of the World

One of my favourite passages from one of my favourite novels, Independent People by Halldor Laxness.

St John’s Eve; those who bathe in the dew may wish a wish.

Young and slender she walked down by the brook down to the marshes, and waded barefoot in the luke warm mud of the bogs. To-morrow she was to go to town and see the world for herself…..

The lukewarm mud spurted up between her bare toes and sucked noisily when she lifted her heel. To-night she was going to bathe in the dew, as if she had never had a body before….

It was after midnight, wearing slowly on for one o’clock. The spring night reigned over the valley like a young girl…..

A grassy hollow on the margin of the river, and leading up to it through the new and wandering trail left by two inexperienced feet. The birds were silent for a while. She sat on the bank and listened. Then she stripped herself of her torn, everyday rags under a sky that could wipe even the sunless winters of a whole lifetime from the memory, the sky of this Midsummer Eve.

Young Goddess of the sunlit night, perfect in her half-mature nakedness.

Nothing in life is so beautiful as the night before what is yet to be, the night and its dew. She wished her wish, slender and half grown in the half-grown grass and its dew.

Body and soul were one, and the unity was perfectly pure in the wish. Then she washed her hair in the river and combed it out carefully, sitting with her feet in the water and her toes buried in the sand at the bottom. Those strange waterfowl still swam round her in strange curves, turning about courteously when least expected and making her a bow for no reason at all. For was there anyone else in the whole of the world who could make so fine a bow.


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