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  1. Senior Member
    Interested in Language
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    • Join Date: Oct 2014
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    #1

    Duration of change

    Hello,

    Can anybody explain to me what exactly the duration of change could refer to?


    A hundred years and more ago, when it was alive, when it had some meaning and significance of its own, it must have been comparable to any town of its size in the world. Those were the days when Kennebec men were building and sailing the fast ships that had gone down this river before me and away to the four corners of the world. In the sweltering ports of Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta they had sold their cargoes and even their ballast—great chunks of ice sawed in blocks from the frozen river itself and worth a fortune in the heat of the tropics. They had come home again with gold clinking in their strongboxes and their holds full of rum, silks, spices, tea—all the wealth of Ormus and of Ind for Yankee merchants in Boston, Portland, and Bath. Their captains and owners had built those pillared houses in the days when Barsham Harbor was closer to India than to Illinois.
    On that bright morning their town was as clear and unchanging as the profile on a Roman cameo. Dead for a century though it had been, its aspect was still beautiful and proud. In all the future decades and centuries through which the town might manage to preserve its shell, I could not imagine that anything of importance would ever happen here again. As I looked at those white houses they seemed as truly mausoleums as if they had stood in a cemetery. The past was buried in them, not to stir again until the day of resurrection. Barsham Harbor was through with life and with the only phase of time which matters to living beings—the duration of change.
    I was wrong about that. One thing more was to happen in Barsham Harbor, a thing both violent and terrible, which its citizens have surely not understood to this day. It is incredible that with even an inkling of the truth behind the events to which they were all witnesses, those people could go on living in their village; it is hard enough even for me to sleep without dreaming of it. How can they look down their own streets and across the river to the point where Julian’s house once stood without feeling the hairs lift on the backs of their necks?

    William Sloane, Edge of Running Water, 1939.


    Thank you.
    Not a Teacher. A guy who is fond of old horror and weird literature and who is interested in English language.

  2. Key Member
    Other
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    #2

    Re: Duration of change

    Can anybody explain to me what exactly the duration of change could refer to?

    Maybe William Sloane could explain it, but I doubt it. I'm glad you are enjoying this book, but you shouldn't expect the words to mean a whole lot- they're mostly just flowery prose that looked good on paper to the author, who plainly 'likes to hear himself talk'. He's put together three paragraphs to say what he could have said in two sentences:


    It was an old town with a lot of history, but not much happens there today. Something weird happened, but nobody seems to want to talk about it.

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