Read CHAPTER XV of Raphael Pages Of The Book Of Life At Twenty, free online book, by Alphonse de Lamartine, on

I was not at the time sufficiently composed to understand my own feelings. I felt as one just relieved from a heavy burden, who breathes freely, relaxes his contracted muscles, and walks to and fro in his strength, as though he could devour space, and inhale all the air of heaven. My own heart was the burden of which I had been relieved, and, in giving it to another, I felt as if I had for the first time entered into the fulness of life. Man is so truly born to love, that it is only when he has the consciousness of loving fully and entirely that he feels himself really a man. Until then he is disturbed and restless, inconstant and wandering in his thoughts; but from thenceforward all his waverings cease, he feels at rest, and sees his destiny before him.

I sat down upon the ivy-covered wall of a high dilapidated terrace which overlooked the lake. My eyes wandered over the bright expanse of water and the luminous immensity of the sky; they were so well blended in the azure line of the horizon that it would have been impossible to define where the sky commenced, and where the lake terminated. I seemed to float in the pure ether, or to be merged in a universal ocean. But the inward joy which inundated my soul was far more infinite, radiant, and incommensurate, than the atmosphere with which I seemed to mingle. I could not have defined my joy, or rather my inward serenity. It was as some unfathomable secret revealed to me by feelings instead of words, as the sensation of the eye passing from darkness into light, or as the rapture of some mystical soul, secure in the possession of its God. It was dazzling light, intoxication without giddiness, repose without heaviness, or immobility. I could have lived on thus during as many thousand years as there were ripples on the lake, or sands upon its shores, without perceiving that more seconds had elapsed than were required for a single respiration. When the immortal dwellers in heaven first lose the consciousness of the duration of time, they must feel thus; it was an immutable thought, in the eternity of an instant.