Much more would I delight to relate about these little churches. For
me the topic is full of unending charm; but there are many things
that I must still talk about, so regretfully I turn away to other
The great blue sky
was theirs, and the marvellous view over limitless horizons; theirs
were the shifting clouds, floating sometimes above their heads,
sometimes rising like steam out of the chasms at their feet; theirs
were also the silence and the sunsets, the sunrise and the little
mountain flowers with their marvellous tints. But also the storm was
theirs, and the rain, and the days of impenetrable mist; theirs was
the wordless solitude unrelieved by human voice.
Enormous mantles do they wear, made of skins taken from sheep of their flock, fallen by the way. These shaggy garments give them a wild appearance resembling nothing I have ever seen; even tiny boys wear these extraordinary coats that cover them from head to foot, sheltering them from rain and storm, and even from the too ardent rays of the sun. Their only refuges are dug-outs, half beneath the earth, of which the roofs are covered with turf, so that even at a short distance they can hardly be seen. Here, in company with their dogs, they spend the long summer months, till the frosts of autumn send them and their flocks back to the plains.
creatures are these shepherds, almost as unkempt as their dogs.
Solitude seems to have crept into their eyes, that look at you
without sympathy, as though they had lost the habit of focusing them
to the faces of men.
Once I had a curious
impression. I was riding over some endless downs near the sea.
Nothing could be flatter than the landscape that stretched before
me; the sea was a dead calm, resembling a mirror of spangled blue;
the sand was white and dazzling; waves of heat rose from the ground,
scorching my face; the entire world seemed to be gasping for breath.
I alone was moving upon this immensity; sky, sea, and sand belonged
Because of their
lonely vigils amongst voiceless wilds, they have surely returned to
a nearer comprehension of nature; perchance they have discovered
strange secrets that none of us know!