Friday, July 15, 2005

Follow-up to Tall Skylines Post (July 11th)

Some of you wrote in to say that you liked the post about travelling to NYC a few days back. So thought would mention that if you really want to read a beautiful description of a train journey on the NYC - Philadelphia line (or just some amazing descriptions of NYC) then you should read the first chapter of Derek Walcott's The Prodigal (2004). Nobody, but nobody, can evoke the sense of place better than Walcott.

A few random selections (it's all like this; all of it):

In autumn, on the train to Pennsylvania,
he placed his book face-down on the sunlit seat
and it began to move. Metre established,
carried on calm parallels, he preferred to read
the paragraphs, the gliding blocks of stanzas
framed by the widening windows -
Italian light on the factories, October's
motley in Jersey, wild fans of trees, the blue
metallic Hudson, and in the turning aureate afternoon,
dusk on rose brickwork as if it were Siena.

Nothing. Nobody at the small railroad station.
The willows fan open. Here we hung our harps,
as the river slid past to elegaic banjos
and the barge crawled along an ochre canal
past the white spires of autumnal towns
and racketing freight trains all long whoop and echo.
Stations, bridges and tunnels enter their language
and the scribble of brown twigs on a blank sky.

And later:

Echoing railway stations drew him into fiction,
their web of schedules, incoherent announcements,
the terror of missing his train, and because trains
(their casual accuracy, the joy in their gliding power)
had (there were no trains on the islands
of his young manhood) a child's delight in motion,
the lines and parallels and smoky arches
of unread famous novels would stay the same
for yet another fall with all its bright counties,
he knew, through the gliding window, the trees would lift
in lament for all the leaves of the unread books,
'Anna Karenina', for the long wail of smoke
across Alpine meadows, for soldiers leaning
out of war-crowded stations, a seperate joy
more rooted in landscapes than the flare of battles.

Wow! Just wow!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a great site
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