El temblor del corazón de la bailarina ha de ser armonizado desde las puntas de sus zapatos hasta el abrir y cerrar de sus pestañas, desde el último volante de so cola al juego incesante de sus dedos. Verdadera náufraga en un campo de aire, la bailarina ha de medir líneas, silencios, zigzags y rápidas curvas, con un sexto sentido de arome y geometría, sin equivocar nunca su terreno, como hace el torero, cuyo corazón de estar en el cuello del toro, porque corren el mismo peligro, él de muerte, ella de oscuridad.

(Federico García Lorca: Elogia de Antonia Mercé, «La Argentina»)

The late Romanesque façade of the abbey church is decorated with a row of frail columns lacking a base. Not touching the ground, supporting nothing, they simply frame the semi-circular arch through which I enter. The coolness of the garden contrasts with the head of the landscape, the coolness of the church contrasts with that of the garden, it is almost chilly where I am now. The thick walls of a church prevent the outside air, the ordinary air, from having its way. Suddenly I am standing before an arbitrary structure made of stone; its mere presence alters the quality of what little air has managed to come in. This is no longer the air wafting in poplars and clover, the air that is moved this way and that in the breeze. This is church air, as invisible as the air outside, but different. Church-shaped air, permeating the space between the columns and, deathly still, like an absent element, rising up to fill the pointed vaulting constructed of rough-hewn blocks of stone. There is no one in the church. Enormous columns rise directly from the paved floor, the position of the sun casts a strange, static pool of light through the oculus somewhere on the right of the church. It’s a little ghostly. I hear my own footsteps. This space distorts not only the air, but also the sound of each step I take – they become the steps of someone waking in a church. Even if one subtratcs from theses sensations all that one does not in fact believe in oneself, then there’s still the imponderable factor that other people do believe, and especially have believed, in this space.

Mediterranean brilliance hit me like a bolt of lightning; the whole of human life was enacted on a single, fabulous, public stage against a careless backdrop of thousands of years of sublime art. Colours, foods, markets, clothing, gestures, language: everything seemed more refined, more vivid, more vibrant than in the low-lying northern delta I come from…

(Cees Nooteboom: Roads to Santiago)

A csukott redőnyök mögött, az aszalt, pörkölt és elszáradt kertben utolsó dühével lobogott a nyár, mint egy gyújtogató, aki esztelen dühében felgyújtja a határt, mielőtt világgá megy.

(Márai Sándor: A gyertyák csonkig égnek)

La noche tiene brillantez mágica de sonidos desde este torreón. Si hay luna, es un marco vago de sensualidad abismática lo que invade los acordes. Si no hay luna…, es una melodía fantástica y única lo que canta el río…, pero la modulación original y sentida en que el color revela las expresiones musicales más perdidas y esfumadas, es el crepúsculo… Ya se ha estado preparando el ambiente desde que la tarde media. Las sombras han ido cubriendo la hoguera alhambrina… La vega está aplanada y silenciosa. El sol se oculta y del monte nacen cascadas infinitas de colores musicales que se precipitan aterciopeladamente sobre la ciudad y la sierra y se funde el color musical con las ondas sonoras… Todo suena a melodía, a tristeza antigua, a llanto. 

(Federico García Lorca: Impresiones y paisajes)

[the bugler]…pitched his notes carefully to the freezing stars and drew them out like threads of Venetian glass.

(Laurie Lee: A Moment of War)

South of Toledo there was a green country still – green trees against brick-red earth, trees so intense they seemed to throw green shade and turn the dust around them to grass.

There were purple evenings, juicy as grapes, the thin moon cutting a cloud like a knife; and dawns of quick sudden thunder when I’d wake in the dark to splashes of rain pouring from cracks of lightning, then walk on to a village to sit cold and alone, waiting for it to wake and sell me some bread, watching the grey light shifting, a man opening a table, the first girls coming to the square for water.

(Laurie Lee: As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning)

Seville of sweet wines and bitter oranges, of dandy horsemen bearing their girls to the parks, of fantastic villas and radiant whores, of finery, filth and interminable fiesta centred around the huge dead-weight of the cathedral: this is the city where, more than in any other, one may bite on the air and taste the multitudinous flavours of Spain – acid, sugary, intoxicating, sickening, but flavours which, above all in a synthetic world are real as nowhere else.

And faced with the beauty of his technique, the complex harmonies, the ease and grace, the supreme mastery of tone and feeling, I would feel like one of the lesser apes who, shuffling on his knuckles through the sombre marshes, suddenly catches sight of homo sapiens, upright on a hill, his gold head raised to the sky.

(Laurie Lee: A Rose for the Winter)

Night, when words fade and things come alive.

Each burst of a machine gun or a rapid-fire cannon shot forth hundreds of these phosphorescent bullets that followed one another like the. beads of a rosary. A thousand elastic rosaries strung themselves out towards the plane, drew themselves out to the breaking point, and burst at our height. When, missing us, the string went off at a tangent, its speed was dizzying. The bullets were transformed into lightning. And I flew drowned in a crop of trajectories as golden as stalks of wheat. I flew at the centre of a thicket of lance strokes. I flew threatened by a vast and dizzying flutter of knitting needles. All the plain was now bound to me, woven and wound round me, a coruscating web of golden wire.

I had been looking on at a carnival of light. The ceiling had risen little by little and I had been unaware of an intervening space between the clouds and me. I had been zigzagging along a line of flight dotted by ground batteries. Their tracer bullets had been spraying the air with wheat-coloured shafts of light. I had forgotten that at the top of their flight the shells of those batteries must burst. And now, raising my head, I saw around and before me those rivets of smoke and steel driven into the sky in the pattern of towering pyramids.
I was quite aware that those rivets were no sooner driven than all danger went out of them, that each of those puffs possessed the power of life and death only for a fraction of a second.

(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: Flight to Arras)

I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams…

(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: The Little Prince)

¡Pero desde aquí, desde París, desde este París que está reventando historia, lo que pasa y mete ruido, ni se ve montaña, ni se ve desierto, ni se ve mar! Los pobres hombres que estamos enjaulados aquí, en la ciudad, en la gran ciudad, en el Arce de Noé de la civilización y de la historia, no podemos a diario limpiar nuestra vista, y con ella nuestra alma, en la visión de las eternidades de la montaña, del desierto, de la mar.

¡Y si a falta de la mar tuviese siquiera un río! Aquel Tormes, en que los sauces, alisos, olmos y mimbres hunden sus raíces en el agua de la orilla; aquel Tormes de cambiantes riberas, con aquella islata tupida de maleza o aquel íntimo Carrión… en que se mira la torre de San Miguel, de Palencia. Pero este Sena no es un río; este Sena, como el Nervión en mi Bilbao nativo, es un canal; es ya, como la Torre Eiffel, un artefacto. ¿Quién conoce que es isla la Cité, que es isla la de San Luis? En Palencia hay dos islas así, que forman un 8; pero son islas, son verdaderas islas; son trozos de tierra rodeados de agua, mientras aquí es agua rodeada de tierra.
¡Ni montaña, ni desierto, ni mar, ni siquiera río, verdadero río! ¡Y por todas partes historia, historia, historia! ¡Y luego, almacenada en museos, arqueología! «Aquí decapitaron a Luis XVI.»  «Desde esa torre se tocó a rebato en lo de San Bartolomé.» «Esta columna derribaron los de la Comuna.» «Aquí están las cenizas de Napoleón.» «Aquí…» Y uno busca con los ojos del alma la cumbre del Almanzor, en Gredos; el páramo palentino, la mar que se ha olvidado de las carabelas de Colón.

Cierro los ojos para ver. Y allí está, allí, un poco a la derecha del depósito de aguas -¡otro artefacto histórico!-, cerrando o abriendo el cielo, confundiéndose a veces con las nubes, allí está la cumbre nevada de Gredos. Desde allí nos llama y no a su altura, no a su trono, sino a nuestro más íntimo deber; desde allí nos llama al sentido de la eternidad.

(Miguel de Unamuno: ¡Montaña, desierto, mar!)

Pobres árboles prisioneros, con grillos de piedra en los pies!
No se ve, entre los bulevares y avenidas, otra tierra que la de los jardines, ¡tierra prisionera también! Y arriba el cielo, casi siempre entoldado de nubes lluviosas, enmarcado entre tejados. ¿Es eso cielo? ¿No hace al cielo el marco? ¡Un cielo que se apoya y como que descansa en montañas, en el páramo, en la mar!…

(Miguel de Unamuno: «Soñadero feliz de mi costumbre»)

There is the silence of peace, when the tribes are reconciled, when the evening cool returns and it seems as if you were putting in, sails furled, at a quiet harbour. There’s silence at noon, when the sun suspends all thought and movement. There’s a false silence when the north wind flags and insects appear, ripped away from oases in the interior like pollen, presaging a sandstorm from the east. There’s the silence of brewing plots, when you know that some distant tribe is simmering. There’s a mysterious silence when the Arabs gather for their indecipherable confabulations. There’s a tense silence when a messenger is late returning. An acute silence when, at night, you hold your breath to listen. A melancholy silence if you’re remembering someone you love.

Just as in the desert if I have the feeling of distance, it’s the influence of a far-off well, and if in the mountains I have the sensation of an abyss, it’s gravity pulling me downward…

France is not an abstract deity. France is not a history textbook. France is not some ideology. France is the flesh that sustains me, a network of connections that rules me, a collection of axes that are the foundation of my affections. That’s why I need those to whom I’m attached to outlast me. To be oriented, I need them to exist. Otherwise, how would I know where or what to return to?

For the desert isn’t where we think it is. The Sahara is livelier than a capital, and the most crowded of cities becomes a desert if the essential poles of life are demagnetized.

(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: Introduction to 33 Days)