A Reflection by Kate Chopin (1850-1904)
Some people are born with a vital and responsive energy. It not only enables them to keep abreast of the times; it qualifies them to furnish in their own personality a good bit of the motive power to the mad pace. They are fortunate beings. They do not need to apprehend the significance of things. They do not grow weary nor miss step, nor do they fall out of rank and sink by the wayside to be left contemplating the moving procession.
Ah! that moving procession that has left me by the road-side! Its fantastic colors are more brilliant and beautiful than the sun on the undulating waters. What matter if souls and bodies are failing beneath the feet of the ever-pressing multitude! It moves with the majestic rhythm of the spheres. Its discordant clashes sweep upward in one harmonious tone that blends with the music of other worlds–to complete God’s orchestra.
It is greater than the stars–that moving procession of human energy; greater than the palpitating earth and the things growing thereon. Oh! I could weep at being left by the wayside; left with the grass and the clouds and a few dumb animals. True, I feel at home in the society of these symbols of life’s immutability. In the procession I should feel the crushing feet, the clashing discords, the ruthless hands and stifling breath. I could not hear the rhythm of the march.
Salve! ye dumb hearts. Let us be still and wait by the roadside.
I was walking through a New Orleans bookstore one day and saw The Awakening. I bought it because I had just been to Grand Isle. Little did I know it was a famous novel. I much enjoyed it and think of it often.
My 16-year-old niece introduced me to “The Awakening” after she read it for school. And I am so glad she did. My copy included several of Chopin’s short stories, so if you haven’t read them yet, you might enjoy: “Beyond the Bayou” and “Desiree’s Baby.” All the stories were memorable but these two in particular will stay with me for a long time. Happy reading!
The image of the bride plunging headlong in the unknown is a remarkable metaphor. The prose is stunning. I’m re-reading it and soaking it up.
My reaction exactly–I’ll be reading that short essay for years to come. Here’s to a summer full of new literary discoveries!