Short summary - The Blind - Maurice Maeterlinck

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - The Blind
Maurice Maeterlinck

The old northern forest under the high starry sky. Leaning against the trunk of an old hollow oak tree, the decrepit priest froze in dead immobility. His blue lips are half-parted, his frozen eyes no longer look at this visible side of eternity. Emaciated hands are folded in their laps. To his right, six blind old men are sitting on stones, stumps and dry leaves, and to the left, facing them, are six blind women. Three of them pray and lament all the time. The fourth is quite old. The fifth, in quiet madness, holds the sleeping child in her lap. The sixth is strikingly young, her hair flowing down her shoulders. Both women and old people are dressed in wide, gloomy, monotonous clothes. All of them, putting their hands on their knees and covering their faces with their hands, are waiting for something. Tall cemetery trees - yews, weeping willows, cypresses - stretch their safe canopy over them. Darkness.
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blind are talking among themselves. They are concerned about the priest's long absence. The oldest blind woman says that the priest has been uncomfortable for several days, that he became afraid of everything after the doctor died. The priest was worried that the winter might be long and cold. He was frightened by the sea, he wanted to look at the coastal rocks. The young blind woman says that before leaving, the priest held her hands for a long time. He shivered as if from fear. Then he kissed the girl and left.
"As he left, he said" Good night! " - recalls one of the blind. They listen to the sound of the sea. The sound of the waves is unpleasant to them. The blind remember that the priest wanted to show them the islet where their shelter is located. That is why he brought them closer to the seashore. “You can't always wait for the sun under the arches of the dormitory,” he said. The blind are trying to determine the time of day. Some of them think that they feel the moonlight, feel the presence of stars. The least sensitive are those born blind (“I hear only our breath [...] I never felt them,” one of them notes). The blind want to go back to the shelter. The distant striking of the clock is heard - twelve beats, but whether it is midnight or noon, the blind cannot understand. Night birds flap their wings gloatingly over their heads. One of the blind suggests, if the priest does not come, to return to the shelter, guided by the noise of a large river flowing nearby. Others are going to wait without moving. The blind tell each other where who came to the island from, the young blind woman remembers her distant homeland, the sun, mountains, extraordinary flowers. (“I have no memories,” says the born blind.) The wind is blowing. Leaves are strewn in heaps. It seems to the blind that someone is touching them. Fear grips them. The blind young woman smells the flowers. These are asphodels - a symbol of the kingdom of the dead. One of the blind manages to pluck several, and the young blind woman weaves them into her hair. You can hear the wind and the crashing of the waves against the coastal rocks. Through this noise, the blind catch the sound of someone approaching footsteps. This is a shelter dog. She drags one of the blind to the immobile priest and stops. The blind understand that there is a dead man among them, but they do not immediately find out who it is. The women kneel down crying and pray for the priest. The oldest blind woman reproaches those who complained and did not want to go forward, that it was they who tortured the priest. The dog does not move away from the corpse. The blind join hands. A whirlwind twists dry leaves. A young blind woman discerns someone's distant steps. Snow falls in large flakes. The footsteps are getting closer. The insane child begins to cry. The young blind woman takes him in her arms and lifts him up so that he can see who is coming towards them. Footsteps are approaching, you can hear the rustle of leaves under someone's feet, you can hear the rustle of a dress. The footsteps stop next to the group of blind "Who are you?" - the young blind woman asks. No answer. "Oh, have mercy on us!" The oldest exclaims. Silence again. Then the child's desperate cry is heard.