The Garden of Survival
NOW, do not be alarmed lest I shall attempt to describe a list of fanciful unrealities that
borrowed life from a passing emotion merely; the emotion was permanent, the results enduring.
Please believe the honest statement that, with the singing of that bird, the pent-up stress in me
became measurably articulate. Some bird in my heart, long caged, rang out in answering inner
It is also true, I think, that there were no words in me at the moment, and certainly no desire for
speech. Had a companion been with me, I should probably have merely lit my pipe and smoked
in silence; if I spoke at all, I should have made some commonplace remark: "It's late; we must be
going in to dress for dinner. . . ." As it was, however, the emotion in me, answering the singing
of the bird, became, as I said, measurably articulate. I give you simple facts, as though this were
my monthly Report to the Foreign Office in days gone by. I spoke no word aloud, of course. It
was rather that my feelings found utterance in the rapturous song I listened to, and that my
thoughts knew this relief of vicarious expression, though of inner and inaudible expression. The
beauty of scene and moment were adequately recorded, and for ever in that song. They were now
part of me.
Unaware of its perfect mission the bird sang, of course because it could not help itself; perhaps
some mating thrush, perhaps a common blackbird only; I cannot say; I only realized that no
human voice, no human music, even of the most elaborate and inspired kind, could have made
this beauty, similarly articulate. And, for a moment I knew my former pain that I could not share
this joy, this beauty, with others of my kind, that, except for myself, the loveliness seemed lost
and wasted. There was no spectator, no other listener; the sweet spring night was lavish for no
audience; the revelation had been repeated, would be repeated, a thousand thousand times
without recognition and without reward.
Then, as I listened, memory, it seemed, took yearning by the hand, and led me towards that inner
utterance I have mentioned. There was no voice, least of all that inner voice you surely have
anticipated. But there was utterance, as though my whole being combined with nature in its birth.
Into the mould of familiar sentences of long ago it ran, yet nearer at last to full disclosure,
because the pregnant sentences had altered:
"I need your forgiveness born of love. . ." passed through me with the singing of the bird.
I listened with the closest inner attention I have ever known. I paused. My heart brimmed with an
expectant wonder that was happiness. And the happiness was justified. For the familiar sentence
halted before its first sorrowful completion; the poignant close remained unuttered--because it
was no longer true.
Out of deep love in me, new-born, that held the promise of fulfilment, the utterance concluded: