Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Their Eyes Were Watching God

"Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board. For some they come in on the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men."

Holy shit. The opening paragraph to Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God.

It's a book about women, an African-American woman, to be exact, and compare that paragraph to this one in chapter two:

"She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of the bloom; the thousand sister -calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was marriage! She had been summoned to behold a revelation. Then Janie felt a pain remorseless sweet that left her limp and languid."

Well, that's a different take on things. The writing, to this point, is almost biblical, and reminds me of when I taught Sunday school, and once a year I had to take my class on a Christian retreat where I was surrounded by the most Christian zealots I had the displeasure of meeting. To get back at the sorry lot, I would sit quietly, feigning piety, reading from my bible the Songs of Solomon, some of the sexiest, most sensual words you'll ever come across.

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