Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dream Reading

A friend in San Francisco gave me Waverley and I can't put it down, largely for set-pieces like this:

"Mac-Murrogh, the family bhairdh, an aged man, immediately took the hint, and began to chaunt, with low and rapid utterance, a profusion of Celtic verses, which were received by the audience with all the applause of enthusiasm. As he advanced in his declamation, his ardour seemed to increase. He had at first spoken with his eyes fixed on the ground; he now cast them around as if beseeching, and anon as if commanding attention, and his tones rose into wild and impassioned notes, accompanied with appropriate gesture. He seemed to Edward, who attended to him with much interest, to recite many proper names, to lament the dead, to apostrophize the absent, to exhort and entreat and animate those who were present. Waverley thought he even discerned his own name, and was convinced his conjecture was right, from the eyes of the company being at that moment turned towards him simultaneously. The ardour of the poet appeared to communicate itself to the audience. Their wild and sun-burned countenances assumed a fiercer and more animated expression; all bent forwards toward the reciter, many sprung up and waved their arms in ecstacy, and some laid their hands on their swords. When the song ceased, there was a deep pause, while the aroused feelings of the poet and of the hearers gradually subsided into their usual channel."

--Sir Walter Scott, Waverley, 1814

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