Madame Chrysanthème, by Pierre Loti

Chapter 17

The Song of the Cicala

Forever, throughout everything, rises day and night from the whole country the song of the cicalas, ceaseless, strident, and insistent. It is everywhere, and never-ending, at no matter what hour of the burning day, or what hour of the refreshing night. From the harbor, as we approached our anchorage, we had heard it at the same time from both shores, from both walls of green mountains. It is wearisome and haunting; it seems to be the manifestation, the noise expressive of the kind of life peculiar to this region of the world. It is the voice of summer in these islands; it is the song of unconscious rejoicing, always content with itself and always appearing to inflate, to rise, in a greater and greater exultation at the sheer happiness of living.

It is to me the noise characteristic of this country — this, and the cry of the falcon, which had in like manner greeted our entry into Japan. Over the valleys and the deep bay sail these birds, uttering, from time to time, their three cries, “Ha! ha! ha!” in a key of sadness that seems the extreme of painful astonishment. And the mountains around reecho their cry.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 22:36