There are pieces of writing that make one stop – full stop – and put down a book, because they are so beautiful, or so well said, or so evocative, that the passage needs to be left to ring out, to resonate in the mind.
Sometimes they need to be re-read, sometimes they just need to not be followed with anything, until they have sunk fully in to one’s mind.
I’m lucky enough to have engendered this feeling in others, or so i’ve been told, though I can’t say I know which passages, either because I was never told, or have long forgotten.
I have encountered that feeling a few times as a reader; some I likewise can’t recall, today, but one, I revisit often.
This rings in my head not just because it is beautiful, but also because it is so true and deeply felt. For you, a reader, it may not strike this way, but for me, itt describes a particular ache and longing, for something long ago.
The line – from Guy Gavriel Kay’s A Brightness Long Ago, is:
The sailors say the rain misses the cloud even as it falls through light or dark into the sea. I miss her like that as I fall through my life, through time, the chaos of our time. I dream she is alive even now, but there is nothing to give weight or value to that, it is only me, and what I want to be true. It is only longing. We can want things so much sometimes. It is the way we are.
Kay is one of our greatest living writers, transcending genre (his work is nominally fantasy, but is such only in that it exists in analog of historic time and place, and in that it exists ‘a quarter turn to the fantastic’, as Kay has described it. His work exists in a exists of quasi-historic settings, akin to renaissance Europe, Byzantium in the time of Justinian, England during the viking era, medeival china, Spain in the time of El Cid, as well as one foray into modern day Aix en Provence, and one into other-worldly high fantasy.
Each setting exists as a backdrop for variations on our own histories; analogs of historical figures or events server as a stage for his own stories, filled with intrigue, adventure, politics, romance, and in some cases, music and art.
I’m hard put to pick a favorite of Kay’s books; all are brilliant, and while I have my own picks for his best and least great, even my least (The Last Light of the Sun) is some readers favorite.
The book in question, A Brightness Long Ago (which is set in 15th century Italy leading up to The Italian Wars), begins with this passage, below. I can’t stress this strongly enough, though; if you love this, you should read all of Kay’s work, it’s all worthwhile.