Monday, September 15, 2014

Lagniappe: As the sun goes down ...

As the sun goes down, a stillness falls over Egypt. Water channels that cross the field turn to the colour of blood, then to bright yellow that faces into silver. The palm trees might be cut from black paper and pasted against the incandescence of the sky. Brown hawks that hang all day above the sugar-cane and the growing wheat are seen no more and, one by one, the stars burn over the sandhills and lie caught in the stiff fronds of the date palms.

It is this moment which remains for ever as a memory of Egypt, a moment when day is over and night has not yet unfolded her wings, a strange between-time in whose tremendous hush the earth seems listening for a message from the sky. The fierce day dies and the sand loses its heat and all things are for a brief space without shadow.
H.V. Morton, In the Steps of the Master
Isn't this as good as a rest? Read it slowly, let your mind's eye place you there, and take it all in. H.V. Morton is superb at telling us the history and people of a place, but I have never seen anyone dwell upon his lyrical descriptions. They are scattered throughout this book and come to me almost with a shock as he suddenly stops talking about being a tourist and turns attention to the physical.

7 comments:

  1. I'm not sure who introduced me to H.V. Morton: maybe you? At any rate, he is my favorite travel writer, partly for the reason you mention: he gives you poetry to go with the travelogue.

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    1. I discovered him via Amy Welborn who at one point was reading his books before traveling abroad. He is just such a treat and this book is a particular one to Christians since he is also weaving faith into the journey.

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    2. The first one I read was "A traveller in Rome" and I remember being impressed with how faithful his approach was.

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  2. My first one was In Search of London. Really excellent. In the Steps of St. Paul was good too. I probably liked A Traveller in Rome the least of the three, simply because I am not familiar enough with Rome (or Italy for that matter) to connect with a lot of what he mentioned. But that doesn't mean I didn't like it. I did! :-)

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  3. That is a wonderful passage. Thanks.

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  4. Many of H. V. Morton's are still available through amazon.com and, for me, Goodwill and garage sales. His narratives of travel in what were the British and French mandates not only tell us much of ancient times, but do so in the context of what, to Morton, were modern times. Imagine entering Syria through a French customs post, and traveling about in relative safety!

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  5. I was trying desperately to say "many of H. V. Morton's books..." No excuse; I'm on my second cuppa!

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