Nature and Silence

“Silence was there first, before things. It is as though the forest grew up slowly after it: the branches of the trees are like dark lines that have followed the movements of the silence; the leaves thickly cover branches as if the silence wanted to conceal it.

A bird sings in the forest. That is not a sound against the silence; it is the bright glance falling from the eye of silence itself on the forest.

Beside the forest the lake: like a seal stamped by silence on the face of the earth. Or it may suddenly seem like a grey-blue plate fastened on the earth to prevent the silence from breaking through completely and covering up everything.

A mighty tree stands near the lake. Its heavy trunk is pressed in the earth like a great stake planted against the silence. But the silence has crept up along the trunk and the crown of the tree spreads itself out to make room for the silence.

The things of nature are filled with silence. They are like great reserves of silence.

The forest is like a great reservoir of silence out of which silence trickles in a thin, slow stream and fills the air with brightness.

The mountain, the lake, the fields, the sky – they all seem to be waiting for a sign to empty their silence on to the things of noise in the cities of men.

A bird flies from one side of the valley to the other. And it is as though silence were being thrown through space through the body of the bird as through a ball. The bird’s voice is like the sound of the ball cutting through the air, and the silence is even more audible after every note of the bird has sounded.”

Max Picard
The World of Silence (Eight Day Pr: 1948, pp. 130-132)

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Photo credit: wn

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