Solzhenitsyn is perhaps one of the most powerful writers of our age, though it seems that age is passing. Suddenly this truth becomes an illustration of the point that stands out to me today: the will to live. Solzhenitsyn was a fighter. He stood for he stood for truth and human dignity in the face of oppressive Communism. He personally demonstrated the will to live by withstanding years of imprisonment and persecution as well as surviving an assassination attempt by poisoning in 1971.
This short prose-poem by Solzhenitsyn is a near-perfect picture that captures the kind of indomitable spirit he displayed, a symbol of strength we are hard-pressed to find today.
We placed the log on the sawing-horse, as though on an executioner's block, but we could not bring ourselves to bite into it with our saw. How could we? That log cherished life as dearly as we did; indeed, its urge to live was even stronger than ours.”
("The Elm Log". Short Stories and Prose Poems. Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1971. Bantam 1973)