By Paulo Coelho
Almost everyone knows the original Greek story about Narcissus: a beautiful boy who would go every day to contemplate his own face in the waters of a pool. He was so fascinated by himself that, one morning, when he was trying to get still closer to his reflection, he fell into the water and was drowned. In that place a flower sprang up, and we call that flower narcissus.
The writer Oscar Wilde, however, gives the story a rather different ending.
He says that when Narcissus died, the Oreads, who were goddesses of the woods, came and saw that the sweet waters of the pool had changed into salt tears.
‘Why are you crying?’ asked the Oreads.
‘I’m weeping for Narcissus.’
‘We do not wonder that you should mourn for Narcissus in this way,’ they said. ‘After all, we could only run after him through the forest, but you could gaze on his beauty from close to.’
‘But was Narcissus beautiful?’ asked the pool.
‘Who better than you to know?’ the Oreads replied, somewhat taken aback. ‘It was, after all, on your banks that he would lie each day.’
The pool was still for a moment. Then it said:
‘I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that he was beautiful. I weep for him because whenever he lay on my banks and looked into my waters, I could see my own beauty reflected in his eyes.’
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