Tuesday, April 12, 2011

the sound of an oar rhythmically striking

When a quarrel started (Henny and Sam did speak at the height of their most violent quarrels) and elementary truths were spoken, a quiet, a lull, would fall across the house. One would hear, while Henny was gasping for indignant breath and while Sam was biting his lip in stern scorn, the sparrows chipping, or the startling rattle of the kingfisher, or even an oar sedately dipping past the beach, or even the ferry's hoot. Exquisite were these moments.

Christina Stead, The Man Who Loved Children

But a star-spangled night, a day of sunshine, the freshness which comes at evening after a day of heat, and seems to bring to the listening ear, against a background of silence, the sound of an oar rhythmically striking the water, spoke for him a sublime language which in a very especial way sent his thoughts soaring.

Marcel Proust, Jean Santeuil, translated by Gerard Hopkins

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