The Sparrow

Title: The Sparrow
Author: Ivan Turgenev
Translated From The Russian
I had returned from the hunt and was walking along one of the alleys in the garden. My hound was running on in front of me. Suddenly he retarded his steps and began to crawl stealthily along, as though he detected game ahead.

I glanced down the alley and beheld a young sparrow, with a yellow ring around its beak and down on its head. It had fallen from the nest (the wind was rocking the trees of the alley violently), and sat motionless, impotently expanding its barely-sprouted little wings.

My hound was approaching it slowly when suddenly, wrenching itself from a neighbouring birch, an old black-breasted sparrow fell like a stone in front of my dog’s very muzzle–and, with plumage all ruffled, contorted, with a despairing and pitiful cry, gave a couple of hops in the direction of the yawning jaws studded with big teeth.

It had flung itself down to save, it was shielding, its offspring … but the whole of its tiny body was throbbing with fear, its voice was wild and hoarse, it was swooning, it was sacrificing itself!

What a huge monster the dog must have appeared to it! And yet it could not have remained perched on its lofty, secure bough…. A force greater than its own will had hurled it thence.

My Tresor (note: the dog’s name) stopped short, retreated…. Evidently he recognised that force.

I hastened to call off the discomfited hound, and withdrew with reverence.

Yes; do not laugh. I felt reverential before that tiny, heroic bird, before its loving impulse.

Love, I thought, is stronger than death.–Only by it, only by love, does life support itself and move.

April, 1878.


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