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Everywhere throughout the great San Joaquin, unseen and unheard, a thousand plows up-stirred the land; tens of thousands of shears clutched deep into the warm, moist soil.

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It was the long, stroking caress,
vigorous, male, powerful,
for which the earth seemed panting.

The heroic embrace
of a multitude of iron hands,
gripping deep
into the brown, warm flesh
of the land that quivered responsive
and passionate
under this rude advance,
so robust as to be almost an assault,
so violent as to be veritably brutal.

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There, under the sun
and under the speckless sheen of the sky,
the wooing of the Titan began,
the vast primal passion,
the two world forces,
the elemental male and female,
locked in a colossal embrace,
at grapples in the throes of an infinite desire,
at once terrible and divine, knowing no law,
untamed, savage, natural, sublime.

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Men were nothings,
mere animalcules,
mere ephemeredes
that fluttered and fell
and were forgotten
between dusk and dawn.

Vanamee had said there was no death.
But for one second,
Presley could go one step further.

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Men were naught,
death was naught;
FORCE once existed-
FORCE that brought men into the world, FORCE that crowded them out of it
to make way for the succeeding generation, FORCE that made the wheat grow,
FORCE that garnered it from the soil
to give place for the succeeding crop.

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Somehow he could not deny it.
It rang with the clear reverberation of truth.
Was no one, then, to blame
for the horror at the irrigating ditch?
laws of supply and demand-
were these, then, the enemies, after all?

Not enemies;
there was no malevolence in nature.

Colossal indifference only,
a vast trend toward appointed goals.

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Nature was then,
a gigantic engine,
a vast cyclopean power,
huge, terrible,
a leviathan with a heart of steel,
knowing no compunction,
no forgiveness,
no tolerance;
crushing out the human atom
standing in its way with nirvanic calm,
the agony of destruction sending never a jar, never the faintest tremor
through all that prodigious mechanism
of wheels and cogs.

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All text from
"The Octopus" by Frank Norris.


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