As vindictive as…

As vindictive as…

Apologies to all camels if this sullies your good character, but I liked the simile and had fun finding a photo of a camel who might be described as having a vindictive look. ‘… vindictive as a camel.’   Source: Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last...
Of smoke and goats

Of smoke and goats

A refreshing image for a choking smoke.  I tried to find a picture of goats who looked as though smoke might be getting up their nose. ‘The smoke was so thick that the goats sneezed seven miles away.’   Source: Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last Temptation,...
When God mixes with man

When God mixes with man

An uplifting depiction of a potentially winning combination? I also liked the intimacy and proximity implied here, not a distant thunderer in the heavens or up some inaccessible mountain lobbing brickbats and lightening bolts, but to his left and to his right,...
Where hope begins

Where hope begins

At first glance this posits the last place you would think to look for the beginnings of hope: where there is none. Yet, once in a while, when despair is caused by temporary sorrows, there can be a point when you know, raw and wrung out as you are, that you’ve...
Freshly-bathed earth

Freshly-bathed earth

The freshness after rain which Rumi uses as a metaphor for spiritual enlightenment, is here presented as a source of earth’s gratitude towards rain-giving heaven.  Particularly in this parched Biblical land. ‘Day was breaking. The clouds had scattered; the...
Desert-roughened voice

Desert-roughened voice

This refers to Salome (not that Salome), the upright, powerful wife of Zebedee, whose anger terrifies her son because it embodies the entire and obstinate race of Israel. Salome, elderly woman as she is, is the one with the most courage and integrity. ‘Every...
Black-soiled Samaria

Black-soiled Samaria

Kazantzakis’ vibrant re-creation of Biblical lands and times includes earth-colour mapping of different regions. I liked the contrast of red-soiled Galilee and black-soiled Samaria. ‘Leaving the red soil of Galilee behind them, they entered black-soiled...
All the doors of Israel

All the doors of Israel

It’s now a month since I read this book and I still have a burning impression of dazzling light and heat. Here the sun is stalking the Israelites like a lion. The sun came out of the desert like a lion and beat at all the doors of Israel.  See also his desert...
See me, pity me

See me, pity me

Simeon is one of the strongest, most dynamic characters in this vibrantly retold story of Christ’s life.  He is Jesus’ uncle and the rabbi of Nazareth, and is hanging on to life by sheer force of will because God has told him he will see the Messiah before...
Stars as pearls

Stars as pearls

Strings of star-pearls draped around a beauteously bejewelled night! ‘The stars were strings of pearls around the neck and arms of the night.’ For another pearly metaphor, see this from Virginia Woolf’s Orlando.   Source: Nikos Kazantzakis, The...
Yeast needed

Yeast needed

Liked this way of portraying a skinny, hollowed out man – made without leaven, flat as a pancake. ‘A hairless, cross-eyed man with a sharp skinny snout jumped up. He looked as though someone had forgotten to add the yeast when he was kneaded.’  ...
When is a virtue not a virtue?

When is a virtue not a virtue?

This struck me – virtues that are but by-products of fear and poverty, may not be virtues at all.  If you have no money (or credit), lauding your frugality is hardly meaningful. May your virtues come from you naturally rather than being forced upon you by fear...
Of time and water

Of time and water

A heartening description of time as the great irrigator of the world. See another such ripening interpretation by Kazantzakis. ‘Time ran on like immortal water, and irrigated the world.’   Source: Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last Temptation, trans. P.A....
God’s royal artery

God’s royal artery

A compelling way to single out a great river and to map the world’s waterways – as so many veins and arteries of their maker. This is part of an alarmingly vivid dream which troubles the crucifix-making son of a carpenter. ‘And flowing from one end...

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