«The Golden Poppy» is one of my favorite stories by Jack London. I have been dreaming to live by nature all my life. Look at the golden poppies in the picture. Aren’t they beautiful? The story starts with a hope for happiness and true life but it turns out to be a misfortune and madness. I can say that I have never read so ironical and tragic story at the same time. If you don’t know how money and property influence us, I advise you should read it. If you learn Russian, you can read it in Russian, too.
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Jack London. The Golden Poppy (read online)
I have a poppy field. That is, by the grace of God and the good-nature of editors, I am enabled to place each month divers gold pieces into a clerical gentleman’s hands, and in return for said gold pieces I am each month reinvested with certain proprietary rights in a poppy field. This field blazes on the rim of the Piedmont Hills. Beneath lies all the world. In the distance, across the silver -sweep of bay, San Francisco smokes on her many hills like a second Rome. Not far away, Mount Tamalpais thrusts a rugged shoulder into the sky; and midway between is the Golden Gate, where sea mists love to linger. From the poppy field we often see the shimmering blue of the Pacific beyond, and the busy ships that go forever out and in.
«We shall have great joy in our poppy field,» said Bess. «Yes,» said 1; «how the poor city folk will envy when they come to see us, and how we will make all well again when we send them off with great golden armfuls!»
«But those things will have to come down,» I added, pointing to numerous obtrusive notices (relics of the last tenant) displayed conspicuously along the boundaries, and bearing, each and all, this legend: —
«Private Grounds. No Trespassing.»
«Why should we refuse the poor city folk a ramble over our field, because, forsooth, they have not the advantage of our acquaintance
«How I abhor such things,» said Bess; «the arrogant symbols of power.»
«They disgrace human nature,» said I.
«They shame the generous landscape,» she said, «and they are abominable.»
«Piggish!» quoth 1, hotly. «Down with them!»
We looked forward to the coming of the poppies, did Bess and 1, looked forward as only creatures of the city may look who have been long denied. I have forgotten to mention the existence of a house above the poppy field, a squat and wandering bungalow in which we had elected to forsake town traditions and live in fresher and more vigorous ways.
The first poppies came, orange-yellow and golden in the standing grain, and we went about gleefully, as though drunken with their wine, and told each other that the poppies were there. We laughed at unexpected moments, in the midst of silences, and at times grew ashamed and stole forth secretly to gaze upon our treasury. But when the great wave of poppy-flame finally spilled itself down the field, we shouted aloud, and danced, and clapped our hands, freely and frankly mad.
Read in Russian — Джек Лондон. Золотой мак. Часть 1