“And this our life, exempt from public haunt finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, and good in everything.”—Shakespeare : ‘As you like it’
The village stands far inland; and the streams that trot through the soft green valleys all about have as little knowledge of the sea, as the three-years’ child of the storms and passions of man hood. The surrounding country is smooth and green, full of undulations, and pleasant country roads strike through it in every direction, bound for distant towns and villages. On these roads the lark in summer is continually heard, nests are plentiful In the hedges and dry ditches, and on the grassy banks smile the bide harebells. On these roads you may walk for a year and encounter nothing more remarkable than the country cart, troops of tawny children from the woods, laden with primroses., and, at long intervals, a black funeral creeping in from some remote hamlet, and to this lust the people reverently doff off their hats and stand aside,
Everything round one is calm, quiet, moss-grown, and orderly. Season follows in the track of season and one year can hardly be distinguished from another. There is an old house here, inhabited now by pigeons and parrots, and said to be haunted by ghosts. It has a tradition connected with it. A great noble riding by the house one day, several hundred years ago, was shot from a window by a man whom be had injured.
The houses are old, and remote dates may yet be deciphered on the stones above the doors; the apple-trees are mussed and ancient; countless generations of sparrows have bred in the thatched roofs, and thereon have chirped out their lives. In every room of the place men have been born, man have died. On the village centuries have fallen, and have left no more trace than have last winter’s snow flakes.
After all, in spite of every argument, city life is still hurried and nervous, and village life lone and peaceful. We should pay attention to the contrast. Every town has its peaceful, untroubled people, and every village has its loitering goondas and neler-do-wells. Yet there are more kind men in the village than in the city, more men with depth in their eyes and softness in their speech. It is no romantic illusion. It is true the world over.
City life dulls man Of course he laughs and weeps, but it is not the same spontaneous laughter and tears of the villager. There is a quality that comes to a man only after long and inspiring contact with the soil. Deep down in man is a longing that attracts him to the dust from which he sprung and to which he shall finally go. Therefore, he coaxes food out of crusty pieces of earth, planting vegetable seed and fruit seed and flower seed, in a desperate yet natural effort to carry on life. And out in the country, he is nearest the earth which determines so much of his daily existence. He can watch the seasons pass in their slow, never-failing pageant, year after year, the same recurring pattern; brief spring, summer, the monsoons, brief autumn, winter. There is a rhythm of the seasons. And this ancient and never changing tempo gives birth to the best artistic impulses in man; it is indeed one of the prime sources of poetry, “There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood.”
We do not need a university diploma to be able to appreciate the best things of life, as the saying goes, “the best things of life are still free.” But there is nevertheless some slight payment to be made. We must have a simple mud reflecting heart. A simple heart takes in and gives out with the same case. And out in the country it is in its element; there is so much to be seen and felt and absorbed, so much to be learnt in the simplest creatures movement. Nothing chastens a man more than this contact with everyday nature. A glance at the sky at night, rolling with incredible stars, packed full of mystery and a nameless fear, can arouse a deeply religious humility. And spring, beautiful spring when for two or less than two small months the world is clothed in dazzling color after color, spring can awake an instinctive praise of God.
You cannot go against man’s nature without severe consequences. Everyday the city pays for its folly, in maimed men, diseased men, warped men. And less than a mile away there is the green and pleasant land inviting us to fill our smoke heavy lungs with the clean air of God ! There is no man whose blood does not respond to this simple and fundamental call. There is no man who would not rush out, and drink in the clean air of the village life and lie on the green grass and say; “Strange, this is what I was searching for all my life and I never knew it was so near me all the time. Strange that I should have been blind to it so long. But now I will lie down in this green and pleasant pasture, and defy all budging, and cry a pox on time and a pox on the city. I have found my inheritance. Nothing else matters.”
This is our life in the village, a heaven on earth.