The Two Brothers by Ivan Turgenev
It was a vision ...
Two angels appeared to me ... two genii.
I say angels, genii, because both had no clothes on their naked bodies,
and behind their shoulders rose long powerful wings.
Both were youths. One was rather plump, with soft smooth skin and dark
curls. His eyes were brown and full, with thick eyelashes; his look was
sly, merry, and eager. His face was charming, bewitching, a little
insolent, a little wicked. His full soft crimson lips were faintly
quivering. The youth smiled as one possessing power—self-confidently
and languidly; a magnificent wreath of flowers rested lightly on his
shining tresses, almost touching his velvety eyebrows. A spotted leopard's
skin, pinned up with a golden arrow, hung lightly from his curved shoulder
to his rounded thigh. The feathers of his wings were tinged with rose
colour; the ends of them were bright red, as though dipped in fresh-spilt
scarlet blood. From time to time they quivered rapidly with a sweet
silvery sound, the sound of rain in spring.
The other was thin, and his skin yellowish. At every breath his ribs could
be seen faintly heaving. His hair was fair, thin, and straight; his eyes
big, round, pale grey ... his glance uneasy and strangely bright. All his
features were sharp; the little half-open mouth, with pointed fish-like
teeth; the pinched eagle nose, the projecting chin, covered with whitish
down. The parched lips never once smiled.
It was a well-cut face, but terrible and pitiless! (Though the face of the
first, the beautiful youth, sweet and lovely as it was, showed no trace of
pity either.) About the head of the second youth were twisted a few broken
and empty ears of corn, entwined with faded grass-stalks. A coarse grey
cloth girt his loins; the wings behind, a dull dark grey colour, moved
slowly and menacingly.
The two youths seemed inseparable companions. Each of them leaned upon the
other's shoulder. The soft hand of the first lay like a cluster of grapes
upon the bony neck of the second; the slender wrist of the second, with
its long delicate fingers, coiled like a snake about the girlish bosom of
And I heard a voice. This is what it said: 'Love and Hunger stand before
thee—twin brothers, the two foundation-stones of all things living.
'All that lives moves to get food, and feeds to bring forth young.
'Love and Hunger—their aim is one; that life should cease not, the
life of the individual and the life of others—the same universal