The epic of the universe, the ballad they sing in the streets

A lovely passage on the here and hereafter from the novel that’s currently (and belatedly, given the strength of my friends’ recommendations) on my bedside table.

I feel sometimes as if I were a child who opens its eyes on the world once and sees amazing things it will never know any names for and then has to close its eyes again. I know this is all mere apparition compared to what awaits us, but it is only lovelier for that. There is a human beauty to it. And I can’t believe that, when we have all been changed and put on incorruptibility, we will forget our fantastic condition of mortality and impermanence, the great bright dream of procreating and perishing that meant the whole world to us. In eternity this world will be Troy, I believe, and all that has passed here will be the epic of the universe, the ballad they sing in the streets. Because I don’t imagine any reality putting this one in the shade entirely, and I think piety forbids me to try.


from Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson, 2004

Originally published at culture-making.com.

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