Words & Music #8

The seven days I waited to die were strung like glass beads catching light in a window about to be flung up.  I watched the free, endless air, and phrases and scenes from the book reopened.  Like Prince Andrei flat on his back dying in battle when, for the first time, he sees with his entire self the blue and white of the sky, the open dome over this scrap of earth.

Two characters speak of preexistence and eternity.  If they are immortal spirits, they also existed before they were born.  All is one, past, present, future, and good.

That I was young didn’t matter.  I’d had what I wanted, dancing and George.  My dreams healed.  Each night I danced beautifully again, I was the leader of the Bacchantes, killing Orpheus with my powerful legs once more.

–Varley O’Connor, The Master’s Muse

Words & Music #7

They sat for a while listening to the sounds of the evening.  The whitecaps, gray with night, were hushed and nearly forgotten but the rumble of a distant train, the honk and squeal of automobiles and, underneath it all, the music of the cafés, each melody distinct–an accordion riff as ripe as Paris, an abandoned singer with the rain of Pissarro darkening every phrase, a battered hound of a piano–and each whisper, each shout, was a story that did not need words, just beauty and gravity.

-N.M. Kelby, White Truffles in Winter

Words & Music #6

My days had passed in silences with flurries of thought in a landscape that changed slowly.  Note by note the music brought a sense of time back to me.  Each pause was charged with anticipation of the next note and the slow revelation of a tune…I did not understand the words and did not need to.  The sadness was clear in the tune and the singer’s tone and in the expression of the listeners, as was the beauty shared between us.

–Rory Stewart, The Places in Between 

Words & Music #4

If, as the flaneurs claimed, walking around Paris is an art, then the city itself is the surface on which they create.  And since Paris is ancient, that surface is not blank.  Artists paint over their old work or that of others, just as medieval scholars scraped back the surface of vellum or parchment to use it again.  Such a sheet, called a palimpsest, bears faintly, however often it’s reused, the words of earlier hands.  And we who walk in Paris write a new history with each step.  The city we leave behind will never be quite the same again.

–John Baxter, The Most Beautiful Walk in the World

Words & Music #3

Venice!  Is there a name in all the languages of humanity that makes us dream more than that one?  It is pretty, besides, sonorous and sweet; all at once it calls to mind a dazzling procession of magnificent memories, a whole horizon of enchanting reveries.

Venice!  That single word seems to send an exaltation exploding in the soul, it excites everything poetic within us, it provokes all our faculties of admiration.  And when we arrive in this unique city, we inevitably study it with forewarned and ravished eyes, we look upon it with our dreams.  –Guy de Maupassant, Venice


Words & Music #2

First everything was gray and still.  The sky was gray, the grass was gray with dew, the light was gray, and the wind held its breath.

Then sharp streaks of green came into the eastern sky.  If there was a little cloud, it turned pink.  Laura and Mary sat on the damp, cold rock, hugging their chilly legs.  They rested their chins on their knees and watched…But they never could see when the sky first began to be pink.

The sky was very faintly pink, then it was pinker.  The color went higher up in the sky.  It grew brighter and deeper.  It blazed like fire, and suddenly the little cloud was glittering gold.  In the center of the blazing color, on the flat edge of the earth, a tiny sliver of sun appeared.  It was a short streak of white fire.  Suddenly the whole sun bounded up, round and huge, far bigger than the ordinary sun and throbbing with so much light that its roundness almost burst.

Laura couldn’t help blinking.  While she blinked just once, the sky turned blue, the golden cloud vanished.  The everyday sun shone over the prairie grasses where thousands of birds were flying and twittering.

–Laura Ingalls Wilder, On the Banks of Plum Creek