The Prologue from the book, The Alchemist...
© Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist picked up a book that someone in
the caravan had brought. Leafing through the pages,
he found a story about Narcissus.
The alchemist knew the legend of Narcissus, a youth
who daily knelt beside a lake to contemplate his own beauty.
He was so fascinated by himself that, one morning, he fell
into the lake and drowned. At the spot where he fell, a flower
was born, which was called the narcissus.
But this was not how the author of the book ended the
He said that when Narcissus died, the Goddesses of the
Forest appeared and found the lake, which had been fresh
water, transformed into a lake of salty tears.
"Why do you weep?" the Goddesses asked.
"I weep for Narcissus," the lake replied.
"Ah, it is no surprise that you weep for Narcissus," they
said, "for though we always pursued him in the forest, you
alone could contemplate his beauty close at hand."
"But..... was Narcissus beautiful?" the lake asked.
"Who better than you to know that?" the Goddesses said
in wonder, "After all, it was by your banks that he knelt each
day to contemplate himself!!"
The lake was silent for some time.
Finally it said:
"I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus
was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my
banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty
"What a lovely story," the alchemist thought.
authorization granted to publish on this web page by
Maria de Lourdes
Paulo Coelho's assistant