Sunday, 19 April 2009

Fermor on the verbal music of Greece

This recent posting by Laudator Temporis Acti deserves to be echoed here.

Patrick Leigh Fermor, Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece (London: John Murray, 1966), Chapter VI (Sounds of the Greek World):
The seas of Greece are the Odyssey whose music we can never know: the limitless sweep and throb of prosody, the flux and reflux of hexameters scanned by winds and currents and accompanied, for its escort of accents, 

for the fall of its dactyls
the calm of spondees
the run of tribrachs
the ambiguity of trochees
and the lash of anapests;
for the flexibility of accidence,
the congruence of syntax
and the confluence of its crasis;
for the fluctuating of enclitic and proclitic,
for the halt of caesurae and the flight of the digamma,
for the ruffle of hard and soft breathings,
for its liquid syllables and the collusion of diphthongs,
for the receding tide of proparoxytones,
and the hollowness of perispomena stalactitic with subscripts,
for the inconsequence of anacolouthon,
the economy of synecdoche,
the compression of hendiadys
and the extrvagance of its epithets,
for the embrace of zeugma,
for the abruptness of asyndeton
for the swell of hyperbole
and the challenge of apostrophe,
for the splash and the boom and the clamour and
the echo and the murmur of onomatopoeia

by the

islands and harbours and causeways and soundings and crescents of shingle, whirlpools and bays and lagoons and narrows and chasms and roadsteads, seismic upheavals of crags in the haze of dying volcanoes; islets lying in pale archipelagos, gulfs, reefs and headlands, warrened with cavities, that end in a litter of rocks and spikes where the limestone goes dark at sunset; thunderbolt sea-marks scattered on the water, light in the reign of the Pleiades, slowly spinning the sea-sounds that sigh in the caves of solitary islands.


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