Friday, October 05, 2007

The Beauty of a Phrase Well-Turned

I've always appreciated wordsmiths. I've got little or nothing of artistic creativity, but I enjoy words. Being a multilingual reader adds to my sense of amazement at the power of artistic words, capable of creating mental image, with no need of paint or canvas.

Southern Chile is beautiful. Eusebio Lillo and Bernardo de Vera y Pintado may have been thinking of her beauty when they wrote these words that Chileans sing as part of their National Anthem:

Puro Chile, es tu cielo azulado, Puras brisas te cruzan también, Y tu campo de flores bordados, Es la copia feliz del Edén.

Those lines speak of Chile being a "perfect copy of Eden." Say, did you know the meaning of the name, Chile? Though disputed, one of the suggested meanings has its origin in an Aymara word that means "end of the earth." That's an interesting thought, a perfect copy of Eden, at the end of the earth.

Over a very long period of time now, I have been reading Isabel Allende's new book, Inés, del Alma Mía (link to English translation), which is the story of Inés Suárez, who with Pedro de Valdivia, conquered Chile. I have seen her name on street signs before, without knowing about her story. Pedro de Valdivia is legendary in Chile (I knew a bit about his story), founding the city of Santiago (where we lived for many years). Academician don't usually admit to liking or using Wikipedia. It is not a refereed encyclopedia, and doesn't meet academic or scholarly standards. Many Wikipedia articles lack documentation. If you don't tell anyone I pointed you to it, you can get some information about Inés Suárez without having to read the book by reading this article.

I'm almost done reading the book. Allende is a wordsmith in Spanish, a master storyteller. On page 328, I found these words, that describe Pedro de Valdivia being smitten with the beauty of Southern Chile, using the analogy of the garden of Eden, as well:

El Jardín del Edén, la tierra prometida, el paraíso. Mudo, mojado de lágrimas, el conquistador conquistado iba descubriendo el lugar donde acaba la tierra, Chile.

Whoa! Such a beautiful phrase takes the sting out of the Cubs being down 0-2 in the NLDS. Part of being made imago Dei, is our ability to use language to communicate about the glory of God. Thanks be to God!

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