the silence of death …

The Word climbs up slowly out of the silence in the child, and the words of old men and women are slow, too, as they•return to the silence that is the end of life. Like a burden that has grown too heavy the word falls out of the mouth of the old, more down into the silence than out¬wards to other men, for the old speak more to their own silence than to other men.

They move their words like heavy globules hither and thither between their lips. It is as though they were rolling them back in secret into the silence, as though before they leave the earth themselves, the old men and women were trying to give back to the silence the words they received from the silence almost unnoticed when they were children.

An old man and an old woman sitting beside each other in silence outside their home in the evening. . .. They and every word that comes from them and every action to which the word gives rise, are within the silence. They are not even listening any longer to hear what the silence is saying, for they have already become a part of the silence. Just as they led the cattle to water, they now lead the evening to the watering place of silence and wait till it is satisfied. Then they slowly rise and lead it back into the warming light of the house.

Even before they move into the silence of death, the old have something of that silence within them; their movements are slow, as though they were trying not to disturb the silence at the end of the journey. With their stick to help them they still walk hesitantly as if on a bridge without railings, from both sides of which not language any more, but death, rises up to meet them. They go to meet the silence of death with their own silence within. And the last word of the old is like a ship carrying them over from the silence of life into the silence of death. (p 121-2)

The World of Silence – Max Picard