The Song of the Lark – Willa Cather (1915)


This earth seemed to her young and fresh and kindly, a place where refugees from old, sad countries were given another chance. The mere absence of rocks gave the soil a kind of amiability and generosity, and the absence of natural boundaries gave the spirit a wider range. Wire fences might mark the end of a man’s pasture, but they could not shut in his thoughts as mountains and forests can. It was over flat lands like this, stretching out to drink the sun, that the larks sang—and one’s heart sang there, too.

Finished up Cather’s “The Song of the Lark” which was not the read that I had thought I would get. I was all ready for work that reflected life on the open plains at the turn of the century. There is some of that, it’s true, but it’s mostly concerned with the development of a budding young musician who grows up in a small remote mining community in Colorado and travels to big cities here and abroad. However, Cather really concentrates on the musical side of the story – how the protagonist begins and maintains her opera career – and I think this would be a book more appreciated by someone who is in the world of opera. It all dragged on a bit for me. However, there were some good parts (especially the first half of the book).

Another lovely bit of writing for you:

Snow fills the gorges, hangs in scarfs [sic] on the great slopes, and on the peaks fiery sunshine is gathered up by a burning glass…

Not a bad read, but not one of the best Cather books I have come across.

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