I am currently nursing my shoulder- yet again- and have time to continue reading "Les Misérable" by Victor Hugo. I came across a passage in the book that was so well written, that I want to save it here. The words conjured up images and feelings that truly moved me ...
Be forewarned that this post is long and a rather sad one...
A Man overboard!
What matters it! the ship does not stop. The wind is blowing, that dark ship must keep on her destined course. She passes away.
The man disappears, the reappears, he plunges and rises again to the surface, he calls, he stretches out his hands, they hear him not;
The ship, staggering under the gale, is straining every rope, the sailors and passengers see the drowning man no longer; his miserable head is but a point in the vastness of the billows.
He hurls cries of despair into the depths. What a spectre is that disappearing sail! He looks upon it with frenzy. It moves away; it grows dim; it diminishes. He was there but just now, he was one of the crew, he went and came upon the deck with the rest, he had his share of the air and of the sunlight, he was a living man. Now, what has become of him? He slipped, he fell; and it is finished!
He is in the monstrous deep. He has nothing under his feet but the yielding, fleeing element. The waves, torn and scattered by the wind, close round him hideously; the rolling of the abyss bears him along; shreds of water are flying about his head; a populace of waves spit upon him; confused openings half swallow him; when he sinks he catches glimpses of yawning precipices full of darkness; fearful unknown vegetation seize upon him, bind his feet, and draw him to themselves; he feels that he is becoming the great deep; he makes part of the foam; the billows toss him from one to the other; he tastes the bitterness; the greedy ocean is eager to devour him; the monster plays with his agony. It seems as if all this were liquid hate.
He tries to defend himself; he tries to sustain himself; he struggles; he swims. He-that poor strength that fails so soon-he combats the unfailing.
But yet he struggles.
Where now is the ship? Far away yonder. Hardly visible in the pallid gloom of the horizon. The wind blows in gusts; the billows overwhelm him. He raises his eyes, but sees only the livid clouds. He, in his dying agony, makes part of this immense insanity of the sea. He is tortured to his death by its immeasurable madness. He hears sounds, which are strange to man, sounds which seem to come not from the earth, but from some frightful realm beyond.
There are birds in the clouds, even as there are angles above human distress, but what can they do for him? They fly, sing, float, while he is gasping.
He feels that he is buried at once by those two infinities, the ocean and the sky; the one is a tomb, the other a pall.
Night descends, he has been swimming for hours, his strength is almost exhausted; that ship, that far off thing, where there were men, is gone; he is alone in the terrible gloom of the abyss; he sinks, he strains, he struggles, he feels beneath him the shadowy monsters of the unseen; he shouts.
Men are no more. Where is God?
He shouts. Help! Help! He shouts incessantly.
Nothing in the horizon. Nothing in the sky.
He implores the blue vault, the waves, the rocks; all are deaf. He supplicates the tempest; the imperturbable tempest obeys only the infinite.
Around him are darkness, storm, solitude, wild and unconscious tumult, the ceaseless tumbling of the fierce waters; within him, horror and exhaustion. Beneath him the engulfing abyss. No resting place. He thinks of the shadowy adventures of his lifeless body in the limitless gloom. The biting cold paralyzes him. His hands clutch spasmodically, and grasp at nothing. Winds, clouds, whirlwinds, blasts, stars, all useless! What shall he do? He yields to despair; worn out, he seeks death; he no longer resists; he gives himself up; he abandons the contest, and he is rolled away into the dismal depths of the abyss for ever.