Tonight I can write the saddest lines. This Pablo Neruda line so truly describes the feeling of every heart that beat in China last night.
Even the skies couldn't hold back their tears - but they made sure to cry in silence as the last dawn broke over the Beijing Games. They realized immediately, though, that it's not in the right spirit to say goodbye with tears in the eyes, and saved the rest for some other day.
|Fireworks explode during the closing ceremony in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 24, 2008. [Xinhua]Click for more photos
Tears are natural at the end of a grand get-together. But the people who have gathered in Beijing from all over the world to enjoy the 17 days deserved to be seen off with a smile.
That is exactly what the closing ceremony, with its bright fireworks display and mixture of Eastern and Western elements, did. It brought to an end what a journalist who spent the past 17 days in the Olympics Village described as "a party that took a long time coming but was over in a jiffy".
The village was still bubbling with faces, of athletes and officials and journalists before the closing ceremony. Jerseys and country colors were exchanged, messages of love and affection shared and goodbyes said with the hope of meeting again.
The footfalls on the Olympic Green and in the Olympic Village will not cease, but sadly something will be missing. The ground, the stadiums and the buildings, nevertheless, will keep singing the song of the Olympic spirit, the spirit of participation, the spirit to help improve people's lives, the spirit to make a difference to the world.
The Games also leaves behind memories of packed stadiums, world class performances, human endurance and triumph of the human spirit.
The Olympic flame is extinguished during the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games at the National Stadium, also known as the "Bird's Nest" on August 24, 2008. [Agencies]Click for more photos
The Games is usually celebrated for the triumphs, but is as much about failures, for as John Milton says: They also serve who only stand and wait. So this is the time to hail the spectators and the viewers across the world whose enthusiasm made this a "truly exceptional Games", as IOC President Jacques Rogge put it last night.
This is also the time to salute the workers and officials who sweated it out for seven years to give the world this 17-day wonder.
This is also the time to honor the volunteers who worked day and night to make the Games a grand success, and the torchbearers who carried the flame as much in their hands as they did in their hearts. And this is also the time to thank the athletes, sports officials and journalists for making China's dream come true.
Salute is also due to the thousands of performers who gave shape to the dazzling opening and closing ceremonies, under the direction of Zhang Yimou, and to all the artists from home and abroad who contributed to its success.
Fireworks explode during the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the National Stadium August 24, 2008. [Agencies] Click for more photos
But the highest tribute is due to the human spirit, so beautifully presented in the opening and closing ceremonies. The human element was everywhere: in the typefaces and painting scrolls and canvases on the opening day, and in the colorful, myriad geometric formations at the closing ceremony.
This is the time to remember, too, that Beijing had Tianjin, Shenyang, Qingdao, Qinhuangdao, Shanghai and Hong Kong to share the Olympic glory.
Beijing has done everything it could to enrich the spirit of the Olympics. It passed on the Olympic torch to London last night, with hope that the legacy will be carried forward.
And it is with this spirit that the sacred flame seemed to say: "So long, Bird's Nest, Water Cube, Chaoyang Park and Tian'anmen Square. Hello, Wembley, Wimbledon, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square."