"...Who walks by my side in life? Who's weak enough to want to go to bed with me? Who loves me? You understand: animal love? Listen."
He laid his hand on Antonio's knee. He raised his wretched face with its heavy eyes towards him.
"There are truths you can sense," he said, "and there are truths which I know. And what I know is greater. In summer, I go and hunt the Lady of the Moons in sand-pits. The sand is motionless, but the air above is restless. Then the sand begins to move, and the females come out. Thus, while you saw nothing, the sand was all bored through inside under the push of the females ascending from the bottom of the earth to meet the males. You see, that brown earth whose surface is smooth and still, but which writhes in the dark like molten iron in the fire. So much for them. And it's the same for others, green like chestnut shoots; for others again, blue like knife-blades, with a black spot on their heads; for brown ones like bricks; for those which are red all over; for black ones with green dots; for green ones with black dots; for round golden ones like small, dry onions; for long ones like pipe-stems; for hard and soft ones; for the sightless ones which make love while sleeping like sacks being filled; and for the ones that shiver all over, more restless than the wind, which can look all around with their large crystal eyes. So much for love."
He tapped his hand on Antonio's knee.
"Seeing all that stir, you're led to think it's got some meaning: an air of joy, a blessing of the earth and of the sun which makes you rejoice. It's a chain, Antonio, the first link. All the rest begins from there. And I haven't yet made you touch the bitter core of those joys.
"You look at them: they make love. The earth has already crammed their heads with smells, and now it strikes with big hammers of joy on the shell of their skulls. You look at them: they are on with a frenzied, solemn toil, not much unlike pain. You feel quite clearly that they're not aware of it all. Obedience is obedience.
"That's the beginning, all the rest must follow. Bellies are in a ferment. A steam like the breath of vats reeks on the world, flush with bushes and trees. Well, now, I'm sorry, but I can hardly tell you everything, and you already feel that if the flails of your arms strike for things like that, it's because somebody else holds the handles. Fights, sting for sting, eggs laid on the breasts of paralytics, meat carried about, beetles' skulls whitening deep in some hole by the side of a surfeited grub, butterflies' bodies sucked up like fruit, and carried away by the wind along with chaff. That's all.
"You said: 'Only a woman.' Good. Your bones are not yet crammed with powder like the barrels of a gun. Go on still making the best of fire and night."
- Song of the World, Jean Giono