Indeed, so deep is my pleasure in the work of the garden that, if there be a dimension after death in which grieving for the loss of the world of senses is possible, I shall grieve for no person however once agonisingly desired and passionately beloved, for no emotional adventure however uplifting, for no success however warming, no infamy however exhilarating, for nothing half so much as I shall grieve to the loss of the earth itself, the soil, the seeds, the plants, the very weeds... It is a love almost overriding my love the words that could express that love.
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The heat is searing and superb. The paddocks surrounding the town are bleached blond. The distant ring-barked gums, mile after mile, wriggle in the heat-waves, and seem to melt like the bristles of a melting hairbrush. The hills turn powder-blue and gauzy. Mirages resembling pools of mica and shallows of crystal water appear at the far ends of streets and roads. Punctually at eleven every burning morning, the cicadas begin to drill the air, to drill themselves also, ceaselessly and relentlessly, to death in one short day after seven long years underground.
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While still sixteen I am put in charge of a class of forty children who are two, three or four years younger than I. I fall in love with them. They are my possession, my mob whose forty minds, under my flashy and domineering control, are to become one, a mind unsullied by errors, unmarked by blots, contaminated by misplaced originalities outside the curriculum, and as full of facts as a pomegranate seed.
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This silent cry is of ecstasy for what has been done, and of despair at being forestalled, and being thus forewarned, that neither This Year nor Next Year am I to have the ability and wisdom to light the lamp on my own. Although one branch of childhood is in this fashion lopped for all time, the rest of it still inhabits the body of a child which occupies itself in childish matters.
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I immediately cotton on to the fact that intelligence thus lightly used, and one-upmanshipishly displayed, is a birthmark giving me a two-coloured face, is a goitre, a hump on the back, webbed toes, and makes me stink like the night-man. Once again I learn what I knew on my very first day at Kensington School, and have carelessly forgotten, that it is more intelligent to appear less intelligent. I henceforth rein myself in, and publicly give back only what I have been given - fifty-six for seven- eights.
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The unwritten rules of behaviour are infinite in number, finely shaded, and subtle to the last fraction of a degree. They are not to be broken. If broken, the rules of forgiveness leading to re-establishment are equally of air and iron. I learn these rules with rather less ease than my contemporaries because, in the back streets of my being, a duel is developing and increasing in fervour between my instinct which knows why something is so, and my hen-pecking intelligence which wishes to analyse why something is so.
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