The rage of Achilles—sing it now, goddess, sing through me
the deadly rage that caused the Achaeans such grief
and hurled down to Hades the souls of so many fighters,
leaving their naked flesh to be eaten by dogs
and carrion birds, as the will of Zeus was accomplished.
Begin at the time when bitter words first divided
that king of men, Agamemnon, and godlike Achilles.
~The Iliad 1. 1-7.
Warner bros / tumblr
God, Thomas Hardy is like magic. So innocuously placed, these phrases paint a landscape of subtlety and delight. Loving my current fling–Madding Crowd and all.
The hill was covered on its northern side by an ancient and decaying plantation of beeches, whose upper verge formed a line over the crest fringing its arched curve against the sky, like a mane. To-night, these trees sheltered the southern slope from the keenest blasts, which smote the wood and floundered through it with a sound as of grumbling, or gushed over its crowning boughs in a weakened moan. The dry leaves in the ditch simmered and boiled in the same breezes, a tongue of air occasionally ferreting out a few, and sending them spinning across the grass. A group or two of the latest in date among this dead multitude had remained on the twigs which bore them till this very mid-winder time, and in falling rattled against the trunks with smart taps.
Between this half-wooded, half-naked hill and the vague still horizon its summit indistinctly commanded was a mysterious sheet of fathomless shade–the sounds only from which suggested that what it concealed bore some humble resemblance to features here. The thin grasses, more ore less coating the hill, were touched by the wind in breezes of differing powers, and almost differing natures–one rubbing the blades heavily, another raking them piercingly, another brushing them like a soft broom. The instinctive act of human-kind here was to stand, and listen, and learn how the trees on the right and the trees on the left wailed or chanted to each other in the regular antiphonies of a cathedral choir; how hedges and other shapes to leeward then caught the note, lowering it to the tenderest sob; and how the hurrying gust then plunged into the south to be heard no more.
Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd (Toronto: Penguin Classics, 2013), 8-9.
Absolutely beautiful. It reminds me of when I go for a walk, by myself or with my dog, and I just stare into the distance. The way I notice the trees that line the variegated sun-setting sky. All you can do is breathe in the magic. Hardy’s lines are such beautiful examples of being a crafter of words and the subtle experience of existence. It feels like breathing. It feels like fresh air. It gives life.
- ‘A computer chattered to itself in alarm as it noticed an airlock open and close itself for no apparent reason.
This was because Reason was in fact out to lunch.’ (1979: 68)
- ‘The Heart of Gold fled on silently through the night of space, now on conventional photon drive. Its crew of four were will at ease knowing that they had bene brought together not of their own volition or by simple coincidence, but by some curious perversion of physics–as if relationships between people were susceptible to the same laws that governed the relationship between atoms and molecules.’ (1979: 93-4)
When reading about space:
- And all dared to do brave unknown terrors, to do mighty deeds, to boldly split infinitives that no man had split before–and thus was the Empire forged. (1979: 98)
- But so successful was this venture that Magrathea itself became the richest planet of all time and the rest of the Galaxy was reduced to abject poverty. And so the system broke down, the Empire collapsed, and a long sullen silence settled over a billion hungry worlds, disturbed only by the pen scratchings of scholars as they laboured into the night over smug little treatises on the value of a planned political economy. (1979: 98).
- The car shot forward straight into the circle of light, and suddenly Arthur had a fairly clear idea of what infinity looked like. (1979: 135)
— Douglas Adams The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
‘I make him come?’ cried Barnaby, pointing to the bird. ‘Him, who never goes to sleep, or so much as winks! — Why, any time of night, you may see his eyes in my dark room, shining like two sparks. And every night, and all night too, he’s broad awake, talking to himself, thinking what he shall do to-morrow, where we shall go, what he shall steal, and hide, and bury. I make him come! Ha ha ha!”
Barnaby on Grip, the raven. ~~ Barnaby Rudge Charles Dickens