… I soak in it like a fish, I swallow it.
This first from the essay ‘November’ found in Knowing the East by Paul Claudel; translated by James Lawler (1900; 2004):
The sun sets on a day of peace and labor. And the men, women, and children, their mops of hair full of dust and straw, their faces and legs stained with earth, are still at work. Here, they are cutting the rice; there, they are gathering the sheaves; and just as the same scene is reproduced over and over on wallpaper, so on every side you see the great rectangular wooden vats with people face to face beating fistfuls of ears of corn against the walls. And already the plough begins to turn the clay. You smell the odor of grain, the perfume of harvest.
From the essay ‘Rain’:
By the two windows before me, and the two on my left and right, I see, I hear with both ears the rain coming down in torrents. I think it is a quarter past twelve. Around me, all is water and light. I dip my pen in the ink and enjoying the security of my interior aquatic prison like an insect in an air bubble, I write this poem.
From ‘The Moon’s Splendor’:
By this key that sets me free and opens the woolen door to my blindness; by this irresistible departure; by this mysterious gentleness that moves me; by this germinal meeting of my heart with the silent explosion of inexplicable answers, I understand that I am asleep, and wake.
I had left a dark opaque night at the four windows and now, coming out on the verandah, I see the whole length and breadth of space flooded with your light, sun of our dreams.
From ‘Here and There’:
… At Shizuoka, in the Rinsaiji temple, I saw a landscape made of colored dust. It had been put under glass for fear a breath of air might blow it away.
From ‘Hours in the Garden’:
There are people whose eyes alone are sensitive to light; and what for most of them is the sun but a cost-free lantern by whose light each comfortably carries out the work of his or her particular estate, the writer with his pen, the farmer with his ox? But I absorb light with my eyes and ears, and my mouth and nose, and all the pores of my skin. I soak in it like a fish, I swallow it.
Finally, from ‘The Spring’:
The crow, focusing one eye on me like a clockmaster on his watch, would see me, a precise miniature being, my walking stick held like a dart in my hand, advancing along the narrow path with an exact movement of my legs. The landscape within the circle of enclosing mountains is as flat as a pan. On my right and left the vast activity of the harvest is underway; the earth is being shorn like a lamb. I fight for the width of the path and my footing on it with the endless line of workers going to the fields, their billhooks at their waists, and with those returning, bent like scales under their loaded double baskets, their forms both round and square marrying the symbols of earth and sky.