A work of almost breathtaking visual beauty that manages to ravish the heart while dazzling the eye simultaneously, neither at the expense of the other.
From Voltaire's "Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne," written in response to the Lisbon earthquake of 1755:
What crime, what sin, had those young hearts conceived That lie, bleeding and torn, on mother's breast? Did fallen Lisbon deeper drink of vice Than London, Paris, or sunlit Madrid? In these men dance; at Lisbon yawns the abyss. Tranquil spectators of your brothers' wreck, Unmoved by this repellent dance of death, Who calmly seek the reason of such storms, Let them but lash your own security; Your tears will mingle freely with the flood.
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
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