Thursday, 14 July 2016

A Violet-Blue Chalice

King Vanimen walks around the islet with his lover, Meiiva, and they begin to talk. Between the walking and the talking is this paragraph:

"Eastward the sky was a violet-blue chalice for the earliest stars. Westward it fountained in red, purple, and hot gold. The waters moved luminous and lulling. The air was quiet and faintly softer than hitherto; it smelled of kelp and distances. A person could set aside hunger, weariness, woe, to enjoy an hour's hope." (The Merman's Children, p. 29)

Four sentences unnecessary for the plot and therefore to be appreciated in their own right (or, as John Lennon put it, in their own write.) How often does Anderson describe the eastern and western skies at either sunrise or sunset? Here, he gives us:

a chalice and a fountain;
four colors;
alliterative water;
four senses - colors, quietness, odors and physical sensations;
an evocative phrase, "...smelled of...distances."

How do distances smell? But the phrase seems appropriate when describing air from the sea.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

A purely LITERARY moment by Poul Anderson, writing for the simple love of fine writing.