Scholar's Apology

It snowed heavily during the night, and the courier will almost certainly be delayed, so I have a few hours more, perhaps even a day or two, to spend with my precious treasure.

It will be awkward, these extra hours in each other's company, when we have already in effect said our farewell. But if we are not *old* friends, we are yet patient with each other from deep familiarity, not to mention shared suffering, so together we will find a way to spend the time.

I am fortunate to have no other duties pressing: my colleagues have been most thoughtful, leaving me in peace whilst I performed the last things.

Indeed, they have treated me as one who is ill with a catching fever, and now that I turn my mind to it, I sense the hand of our dear abbas in keeping them away — as much for their protection, it may be, as out of consideration for me.

No doubt they regard me as possessed, or like one in the implacable grip of an amorous obsession, which is the more apt analogy. I have been under a powerful enchantment, one that only the combined authority [of the entire Conference] could command to be broken. Even so, I can only be dissevered from the body of my beloved: long ago the true object of my devotion took up her proper residence in my heart.

Ah! — so this is how we will spend our last moments together: I rhapsodizing over the past, she silently abiding in complete serenity, only herself, belonging to no one, ever, nowhere ever but here; now with me, but soon with others...

Yes, I am a lover besotted.

And yet, my foolishness importunes me to give it utterance. I suspect I will never be free of it else, never attain the equanimity my beloved's example urges me to seek.