You know how when you’re reading along and you come across a line that makes you put the book down and just breathe for a second?
Not the emotionally charged scenes.
Not the moment a character does something epically embarrassing.
Not at an error.
When you’re reading and suddenly a sentence stands up off the page and smacks you in the face, that’s what I’m talking about. The lines that are so good, they make you envious that you didn’t write them first. The lines that are so beautiful you have to take a second to let them sink into your skin.
I have a few of these stashed in my back pocket – some are even entire poems. But I came across a particularly juicy one while reading the other night.
“The Fuwalda, a barkentine of about one hundred tons, was a vessel of the type often seen in coast-wise trade in the far southern Atlantic, their crews composed of the offscourings of the sea – un-hanged murderers and cutthroats of every race and every nation.”
I just stared at my Kindle like… excuse you. “Offscourings”? I didn’t even know that was a real word! “Un-hanged”? It looks like a sloppy descriptor, but it reads like a bloody sonnet.
To every ear a song sounds different, I suppose. Maybe I’m the only person it tickles. But I’m still not over the sing-song tone of it, the sudden image it conjures, the emphasis of the true dregs of humanity being described. I love it!
Also, any excuse to have a picture of a ship on my blog. I love ships.
How about a more universal one? Another literary moment that made me catch my breath was from “Henry V”, Shakespeare’s play. Henry is wooing Catherine and I just love the whole scene, but when she asks if it is possible that she could love the enemy of France, he replies: “No; it is not possible you should love the enemy of
France, Kate: but, in loving me, you should love
the friend of France; for I love France so well that
I will not part with a village of it; I will have it
all mine: and, Kate, when France is mine and I am
yours, then yours is France and you are mine.”
I thought the line beautiful and sweet at first, but when I stumbled into these verses in 1 Corinthians, it really made an impact. “…Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.”
Now I cannot read the line from “Henry V” without thinking of Shakespeare sitting in an English cathedral, listening to the words of God on a gray British Sunday and suddenly sitting upright in his seat as the beauty of the sentiment strikes at his very soul.
I’m always looking for more heart-stoppers. If you’d care to share, put your favorites in the comments.