Saturday, January 11, 2020

Off On An Expedition

Morning. Still dark. A glimpse of the moon through the hedge, shaking free of the clouds for a moment, but it's gone again. La puesta de la luna. It's late, after 7:00, but there's barely any light in the sky, even now. Winter still holds its dominion.

(Oh! There's the moon again, just above the neighbor's rooftop!)

We use such similar verbs for the setting of the sun, in English and Spanish: the same verb you use for putting things away, or setting them carefully in place. The rising, however, is different. La salida de la luna, they say in Spanish, the going-out of the moon, as if the moon was leaving on a shopping trip. I always have a hard time remembering that, since to me the moonrise signifies the coming of the moon, not its departure. It's joining us, not leaving us. But that's not how Spanish sees it: to Spanish, the moon is off on an expedition, when it rises. Leaving the house.

Finally some light in the sky. La salida del sol, though my breakfast-nook windows don't look east. The skylights are blue with early cloudlight, and the trees and hedge are suddenly an intense, sharp-cut black.

Last couple of days I read G. K. Chesterton's little History of England. Chesterton, Chesterton, what are we to do with you? You're so good when you're good, and you're so bad when you're bad. You wear better than most your contemporaries, though. 

Here he is being good:

We have all read at school that Simon de Montfort and Edward I., when they first summoned Commons to council, chiefly as advisers on local taxation, called "two burgesses" from every town. If we had read a little more closely, those simple words would have given away the whole secret of the lost mediæval civilization. We had only to ask what burgesses were, and whether they grew on trees. We should immediately have discovered that England was full of little parliaments, out of which the great parliament was made. And if it be a matter of wonder that the great council (still called in quaint archaism by its old title of the House of Commons) is the only one of these popular or elective corporations of which we hear much in our books of history, the explanation, I fear, is simple and a little sad. It is that the Parliament was the one among these mediæval creations which ultimately consented to betray and to destroy the rest.


am said...

Thank you for the Spanish lesson regarding "la salida de la luna" and "la salida del sol." In "A House of My Own," Sandra Cisneros wrote that she felt that in the Spanish spoken in Mexico, the world is alive and sacred. Your examples of that are good ones.

Larry said...

Interesting musings! I have mixed feelings about Chesterton; I had a bad experience re-reading the Father Brown stories a few years ago. The unabashed racism in the stories really repelled me and I've avoided the writer ever since, although I know that he was capable of wonderful prose. Be selective, I suppose.