Page:Dead Souls - A Poem by Nikolay Gogol - vol2.djvu/101

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CHAPTER I

Why depict the poverty of our life and our melancholy imperfection, digging people out from the wilds, from the most secluded corners in the empire? What is to be done, if such is the character of the author; if he is so sick at heart over his own imperfection, and if his talent is formed to depict the poverty of our life, digging people out from the wilds and the remotest corners of the empire! And here we are again in the wilderness, again we have come upon an out-of-the-way corner. But what a wilderness and what a corner!

The hills run zig-zagging for over eight hundred miles. Like the gigantic rampart of some unending fortress they rise above the plain, here a yellowish cliff like a wall with ravines and hollows, here a green, round cushion covered, as with lambswool, with young foliage springing from the stumps of cut-down trees, and here dark forests untouched by the axe. The river, faithful to its high banks, makes with them many a crook and turn across the whole expanse, but sometimes it escapes from them altogether into the meadows, then after taking several twists it flashes like fire in the sun, hides in a copse of birch-trees, aspens and alders, and races out of it in triumph

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