I’m currently reading a modern-day story about a North African beekeeper named Sidi. An unfortunate event has occurred, surprising and alarming the isolated villager. Later, the day is closing and a pensive Sidi ruminates:
Dawn will come, but what will it bring? Will the matinal ode to life be the only song, or will it again have a funereal keen?Thoughts of Sidi, from The Ardent Swarm: A Novel, by Yamen Manai
I was awestruck by this ultra-poetic prose, obsessed over it for a good amount of time and soon realized that the absorbing story I’d just begun would likely be full-bodied of such beautifully assembled language. I contemplated, wondering how the sentiment might have been conveyed otherwise (simply because the meticulous phrasing prompted my interest in how any other author might have chosen to convey the scene). My interpretation:
Dawn will come, but will the morning song be devastated by wails of misery?
Reconstruction of the phrase as I interpreted it remains quite poetic and lovely, doesn’t it? This is a testament to the deep effectiveness of the original wording. Albeit, my invocation of wailing misery would be likely to leave readers with a distinct dread not experienced via the author’s phrasing, which remains impressively lovely throughout its alternative verbiage in a way that does not instigate more than necessary apprehension in its readers. This would destroy the author’s overall effect of the beautiful place as exhibited through their language . . . and ultimately disrupt an otherwise steady flow.
Nothing I could have substituted would have the same impact, of course.
Now you understand, perhaps, the motivation for sharing my current read with readers I can reach. The Ardent Swarm is a strong literary fiction that richly conveys an epic story of intrigue. The author’s powerfully poetic prose enthralled this appreciative reader. I’m remembering a previous scene now by which I was similarly ensconced, about the bees content in their dwelling . . . well, you’ll see.
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