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Their merry and varied songs

10 August 2012


At that moment, gay-colored birds of all sorts began warbling in the trees and with their merry and varied songs appeared to be greeting and welcoming the fresh-dawning day, which already at the gates and on the balconies of the east was revealing its beautiful face as it shook out from its hair an infinite number of liquid pearls. Bathed in this gentle moisture, the grass seemed to shed a pearly spray, the willows distilled a savory manna, the fountains laughed, the brooks murmured, the woods were glad, and the meadows put on their finest raiment.

. . . .

With this, the merry-smiling dawn hastened her coming, the little flowers in the fields lifted their heads, and the liquid crystal of the brooks, murmuring over their white and gray pebbles, went to pay tribute to the waiting rivers. The earth was joyous, the sky unclouded, the air limpid, the light serene, and each of these things in itself and all of them together showed that the day which was treading on the skirts of morning was to be bright and clear.

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

Translated by Samuel Putnam

Thanks to Russell for the tip.

Beautiful Writing

3 Comments to “Their merry and varied songs”

  1. Wow, beautiful. I went in my mind, but I really want to go in person, wherever it is.

  2. I read this and wondered if it could get traditionally published today. Would we pan all of this as purple prose?

    • If Don Quixote were to be published today as genre fiction, I can’t imagine any editor allowing it to stand. ‘Lose the g***** atmosphere, Mick. Readers want teh snappy.’

      If it were published as literary fiction, the editor would probably send Cervantes back to the keyboard: ‘Hey, Miguel, this is pretty good, but it’s not obscure enough. These metaphors make sense. Come up with something like this, only bizarre, and we’ve got our call-out quote for the starred review in the Times.

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