Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Favorite Passages in Books I've Read: Part 5,678,329



He was alone. He was unheeded, happy and near to the wild heart of life. He was alone and young and willful and wildhearted, alone amid a waste of wild air and brackish waters and the sea-harvest of shells and tangle and veiled grey sunlight and gayclad lightclad figures of children and girls and voices childish and girlish in the air.

A girl stood before him in midstream, alone and still, gazing out to sea. She seemed like one whom magic had changed into the likeness of a strange and beautiful seabird. Her long slender bare legs were delicate as a crane's and pure save where an emerald trail of seaweed had fashioned itself as a sign upon the flesh. Her thighs, fuller and soft-hued as ivory, were bared almost to the hips, where the white fringes of her drawers were like feathering of soft white down. Her slate-blue skirts were kilted boldly about her waist and dovetailed behind her. Her bosom was as a bird's, soft and slight, slight and soft as the breast of some dark-plumaged dove. But her long fair hair was girlish: and girlish, and touched with the wonder of mortal beauty, her face.

She was alone and still, gazing out to sea; and when she felt his presence and the worship of his eyes her eyes turned to him in quiet sufferance of his gaze, without shame or wantonness. Long, long she suffered his gaze, without shame or wantonness. Long, long she suffered his gaze and then quietly withdrew her eyes from his and bent them towards the stream, gently stirring the water with her foot hither and thither. The first faint noise of gently moving water broke the silence, low and faint and whispering, faint as the bells of sleep; hither and thither, hither and thither; and faint flame trembled on her cheek.

"Heavenly God!" cried Stephen's soul, in an outburst of profane joy.

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

8 comments:

  1. I love this so much. It reminds me of my wonderful in-laws who lived all their lives in Sandycove, a seaside area on the southern shore of Dublin bay. It is where the James Joyce museum is in one of the Martello towers that were built along the bay to watch out for enemies. Should you ever find yourself in beautiful Sandycove - which is and always has been a fairly sophisticated seaside resorz in county Dunlin with Georgian squares and many artists - go and sit on Sandycove harbour wall. The Dublin Joyce society had part of your quote written on that wall on bold letters. Search for Sandycove harbour wall in google images and you may find my picture from my last visit there. It's popular spot to dit and eat ice cream while watching the bay and the ferry coming in from Wales. It's gorgeous.

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  2. Fantastic! And I love your new header just as much.

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  3. One of my favorite books, all consuming on a rainy afternoon.
    Hope you are loosing yourself in something today.

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  4. I'd like to join others in sending you strength.
    You are not alone in this, Elizabeth.

    Clouds come and go,
    The mountain remains unmoved.

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  5. Heard on today's Writer's Almanac, that book was published 100 years ago on this day in 1916.

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  6. I didn't appreciate this fully when I read it in college. How callow I was. Thanks for bringing me back to it with wonder.

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  7. I don't believe I've ever read it. Time to fix that. I love the picture of your kids on the beach.

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