“Somewhere behind the church they began to sing a glorious, mournful song. The words they could not catch and only the voices could be heard — two tenors and a bass. All were listening; there was complete stillness in the yard. . . . Two voices suddenly broke off with a loud roar of laughter, but the third, a tenor, still sang on, and took so high a note that every one instinctively looked upwards, as though the voice had soared to heaven itself.”
Anton Chekhov, Peasant Wives
For some reason people no longer sing together. Only performers on the stage sing today.
So it was in the nineteenth century:
“The village was never free from fever, and there was boggy mud there even in the summer, especially under the fences over which hung old willow-trees that gave deep shade. Here there was always a smell from the factory refuse and the acetic acid which was used in the finishing of the cotton print.
The three cotton factories and the tanyard were not in the village itself, but a little way off. They were small factories, and not more than four hundred workmen were employed in all of them. The tanyard often made the water in the little river stink; the refuse contaminated the meadows, the peasants’ cattle suffered from Siberian plague, and orders were given that the factory should be closed. It was considered to be closed, but went on working in secret with the connivance of the local police officer and the district doctor, who was paid ten roubles a month by the owner.”
Anton Chekhov, In The Ravine
In the Twenty-First Century environmental destruction has grown to unimaginable proportions.
“But at that moment a nightingale in the wood suddenly uttered two low contralto notes. Half a minute later it gave a tiny high trill and then, having thus tried its voice, began singing.”
Anton Chekhov, Agafya
My dear old pear tree has produced an over-abundance of fruit this year.
“Autumn was approaching, and the old garden, its paths strewn with fallen leaves, was quiet and melancholy. The early twilight was falling.”
Ionitch by Anton Chekhov