Home  »  library  »  prose  »  To the Pure Soul of My Sister Henriette

C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

To the Pure Soul of My Sister Henriette

By Ernest Renan (1823–1892)

Who died at Byblos, September 24th, 1861. Dedication to the ‘Life of Jesus’: Translation of C. E. Wilbour

FROM the bosom of God, in which thou reposest, dost thou recall those long days at Ghazir when, alone with thee, I wrote these pages, inspired by the places we had visited together? Silent at my side, thou didst read each sheet, and copy it as soon as written; while the sea, the villages, the ravines, the mountains, were spread out at our feet. When the overpowering light had given place to the innumerable host of stars, thy delicate and subtile questions, thy cautious doubts, brought me back to the sublime object of our common thoughts. Thou saidst to me one day that this book would be dear to thee, because it had been written with thy aid, and because also it was after thine own heart. If at times thou didst fear for it the narrow judgment of frivolous men, thou wast ever persuaded that truly religious souls would in the end take delight in it. In the midst of these sweet meditations, Death struck us both with his wing; the sleep of fever overtook us at the same hour: I awoke alone! Thou sleepest now in the land of Adonis, near the holy Byblos, and the sacred waters where the women of the ancient mysteries came to mingle their tears. Reveal to me, O good genius,—to me whom thou lovedst,—those truths which conquer death, deprive it of fear, and make it almost beloved.