I love the images in these two lines, from two different pieces:
All over the room, like boats softly tooting their horns in a harbor on a foggy night, men were weeping. (Nicholas Dawidoff, “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” New York Times, Sunday, June 15, 2008)
At times I was lonely, but it was a bearable loneliness, the way I imagined that a star, brilliant in a Milky Way of other stars, would be lonely. (Walter Dean Myers, “Poets and Plumbers,” What They Found, Wendy Lamb Books, 2007)
I tried to find more lovely sentences from my reading of the past week or so, enough to make a handful or a dozen, but these two kept pushing contenders aside.
The first is from a personal essay on his lost father, and other men without fathers, by a male author; he hears the weeping as he sits in a darkened movie theatre watching the last scene in Field of Dreams. The second represents a moment of self-reflection by Noee, the 17-year-old female protagonist in a short story, who feels distant from the boys and young men who try to attract her attention. Her father is dead, too.
The loneliness of the first-person narrators is made even more piercing, I think, by the beauty with which it is rendered by each writer. There’s something strangely comforting, too, in the idea of sadness shared, distantly, among other boats and other stars.
Is that ethical, to make sadness be beautiful? That’s a seduction. Should sadness be starker, plainer? It has one quality in art, and another in life.
Either, it is a feeling of force:
Sadness drives us to restore attachment and is from an evolutionary point of view an important adaptive emotion. The sadness caused by bereavement is the cost of having been attached, and it may also act as a social signal that is a plea for sympathy.
In these lines, who makes the plea: narrator, or author? Does it matter? As a reader, I do feel as though someone in these words is reaching out to me.