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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Opening a Book at Random, #1

If I could sing, I would sing the banana. It has the loveliest leaf I know. I feel intemperate about it, because I came upon it after our passage through a wood which could have been underground, a tangle of bare roots joining floor and ceiling in limitless caverns. We stood looking at the banana plant till our mind was fed with grace and light. The plantain jets upwards with a copious stem, and the fountain returns in broad rippled pennants, falling outwardly, refined to points, when the impulse is lost. A world could not be old on which such a plant grows. It is sure evidence of earth’s vitality. To look at it you would not think that growing is a long process, a matter of months and natural difficulties. The plantain is an instant and joyous answer to the sun. The midribs of the leaves, powerful but resilient, hold aloft in generous arches the broad planes of translucent green substance. It is not a fragile and dainty thing, except in colour and form. It is lush and solid, though its ascent is aerial. There is no green like that of its leaves, except at sea. The stout midribs are sometimes rosy, but the banners they hold well above your upturned face are as the crest of a wave in the moment of collapse, the day showing through its fluid glass. And after the place of dead matter and mumbled husks in gloom, where we had been wandering, this burst of leaves in full light was a return to light.

From The Sea and the Jungle (1930), by H. L. Tomlinson

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