And Would Be Beautiful

Alphonse Mucha Woman in the Wilderness

While Egorushka was looking at the sleeping faces, he suddenly heard a soft singing. Somewhere not close by, a woman was singing, but precisely where and in which direction was hard to make out. The song, soft, drawn out, and mournful, like weeping, and barely audible, came now from the right, now from the left, now from above, now from under the ground, as if some invisible spirit was hovering over the steppe and singing. Egorushka looked around and could not tell where this strange song was coming from; then, when he listened better, it began to seem to him that it was the grass singing; in its song, half dead, already perished, wordless, but plaintive and sincere, it was trying to persuade someone that it was not to blame for anything, that the sun was scorching it for nothing; it insisted that it wanted passionately to live, that it was still young and would be beautiful if it were not for the heat and the drought; it was not to blame, but even so, it asked forgiveness of someone, swearing that it was suffering unbearably, felt sad and sorry for itself . . .

–Anton Chekhov, The Steppe


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