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Fujiyama by Johannes V. Jensen

Translated by Elias Bredsdorff

The richest experience I ever had was at sea off Japan; I remember no real event since then. I awoke early in the morning, before sunrise, because the wind blew gently into my cabin, and because in my sleep I was so brimming over with joy that I could not remain lying there. When I looked out of the open port-hole, high in front of me was a sort of beautiful cloud—but it was not a cloud, it was Fujiyama.

That wonderful mountain towered above the whole world; it did not seem to stand on the earth, for the mountain was so far away that its foot merged into the blue thickness that made the Japanese sky. But above the sky itself the white snow-cone of the mountain broke through the atmosphere, airy and light as a cloud, so that instantly I grasped both the vast density of the globe and its weightless flight in space.

It was as though the earth itself confronted me in all its cosmic freshness, the young planet spinning its way out of the darkness, crowned by the aurora borealis with its beautiful sea-blue sphere and the multi-coloured soil of the continents lit by the sun.

What I felt on that occasion was the same primitive experience which one can have as a child at the first sight of anything, a straw, a drop of rain on the window-pane. Afterwards, when acquired ideas have made childhood into the lost country and created illusions of another, nobler, reality than the one we see, then a remoteness and strangeness, a sublime surprise are needed to give back the earth its freshness.

When I saw Fujiyama my last illusions of another existence than the one which IS, were shattered. I understood that the higher world towards which we aspire can only be the one which IS, but that we have never at a given moment attained to it, that we are ordinarily blind to it. No more fruitful thought than that can exist. This, fundamentally, is the only thing a man can experience.

Therefore Fujiyama is a holy mountain, the object of worship for a whole people.

Columbus! There is only one happiness which is eternal: to see again this blessed earth.


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