A sort of dark, private crying…

Word count: 212 words

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

A great way to improve your writing skills is to emulate the work of others. That’s why, every week, I present a sentence that I’d happily imitate. Today’s comes from Sebastian Barry.

I’ve gone on a bit of a splurge with Irish literature, lately. First, I read Malarky. More recently, I finished The Secret Scripture. This Sebastian Barry novel is more a story of character than plot and I found his writing style to be absolutely riveting.

Deeply poetic, the book tells the story of an almost 100-year old woman, set against the history of Ireland — most particularly the 1922 civil war. Barry’s writing is uniformly excellent but here is one sentence I particularly admired:

There in the glimmering room I fancied I saw something strange, a tear rising from the corner of his eye, slipping to his cheek and tumbling quickly down, a sort of dark, private crying.

The modifier “dark” is so seldom used to describe tears and I found the adjective to be especially powerful here. I also liked the “glimmering” of the room (what a perfect word!) and the verb “fancied” seemed to capture a character of a particular place and age.

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