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Monday, March 31, 2008

Textual Inspiration #3

...By that time clouds had begun to pile, working in over the whole sky, except toward the west, beyond the pines, where the light struck through the break. The water was very still, and suddenly dark with the darkness of the sky, and away across the bay the line of woods looked black now, not green, above the whiteness of the line which was the beach way over there. A boat, a catboat, was becalmed over in that direction, nearly a mile away, and under the sky and over the dark water and against the black line of the woods, you never saw anything so heart-breakingly white as the sharp sail.

"We better get in," Adam said. "It's going to blow."

"Not quick," Anne said, "let's swim again."

"Better not." Adam hesitated and looked off at the sky.

"Let's," she insisted, and pulled at his arm. He didn't respond, still scanning the sky. All at once she dropped his arm and laughed and began to run toward the water. She didn't run directly to the water, but up the beach, toward a little spit, with her bobbed hair back loose on the air. I watched her run. She ran with her arms not quite outspread, crooked at the elbows, and with a motion of her legs which was graceful and free, and somehow awkward at the same time, as though she hadn't quite forgotten one kind of running, the child's running, and hadn't quite learned another kind of running, the woman's running. The legs seemed to be hung too loose, somewhat uncertainly, from the little hips, which weren't quite rounded yet. I watched her and noticed that her legs were long. Which I had never noticed before...

...The fifth time I caught up, she didn't dive. She rolled over with a light, lounging twist of her body, and floated on her back, looking up at the sky, her arms spread wide. So I turned over, too, and floated, about five or six feet from her, and looked at the sky.

The sky was darker now, with a purplish, greenish cast. The color of a turning grape. But it still looked high, with worlds of air under it. A gull crossed, very high, directly above me. Against the sky it was whiter even than the sail had been. It passed clear across all the sky I could see. I wondered if Anne had seen the gull. When I looked at her, her eyes were closed. Her arms were still spread out wide, and her hair wavered out free on the water from around her head. Her head was far back, her chin lifted. Her face looked very smooth, as though she were asleep. As I lay in the water, I could see her profile sharp against the far-off black trees...

...What happened was this: I got an image in my head that never got out. We see a great many things and can remember a great many things, but that is different. We get very few of the true images in our heads of the kind I am talking about, the kind which become more and more vivid for us as if the passage of the years did not obscure their reality but, year by year, drew off another veil to expose a meaning which we had only dimly surmised at first. Very probably the last veil will not be removed, for there are not enough years, but the brightness of the image increases and our conviction increases that the brightness is meaning, or the legend of meaning, and without the image our lives would be nothing except an old piece of film rolled on a spool and thrown into a desk among the unanswered letters.

The image I got in my head that day was the image of her face lying in the water, very smooth, with the eyes closed, under the dark greenish-purple sky, with the white gull passing over.

That is not to say that I fell in love with Anne that day. She was a kid then. That came later. But the image would have been there if I had never fallen in love with her, or had never seen her again, or had grown to detest her.

- From All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
This quote has been abridged by me. The complete passage is beautiful
and can be found towards the beginning of Chapter Three.

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