Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Falling faintly through the universe

 The Old Church Park in Helsinki, Finland1 January 2006. By LumijaguaariCC license.

One of my favorite courses at the University of Virginia was with Karen Chase. As all English professors should, she asked us to memorize one of her favorite lines of literature to mark the start of each snowfall. It's just the last line below but here's the whole paragraph in honor of our first snowfall this year:

"A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead."

From "The Dead," by James Joyce


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