rave mute as amber

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sisse nar

Senior Member
Korean
Hi, all.

This is from <A death in the family> by James Agee.

This is little poetic part.
I don't get what "rave mute as amber" means.
And what is the verb for "darkness" in bold?
Actually, I don't get the main subject and verb in the underlined sentence.:confused:

And somewhat as in blind night, on a mild sea, a sailor may be made aware of an iceberg, fanged and mortal, bearing invisibly near, by the unwarned charm of its breath, nothingness now revealed itself: that permanent night upon which the stars in their expiring generations are less than the glinting of gnats, and nebulae, more trivial than winter breath; that darkness in which eternity lies bent and pale, a dead snake in a jar, and infinity is the sparkling of a wren blown out to sea; that inconceivable chasm of invulnerable silence in which cataclysms of galaxies rave mute as amber.
 
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  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'Revealed', to answer the second question, because it's easier. The basic structure of the sentence is:

    nothingness revealed itself; that night (= nothingness) . . .; that darkness (= nothingness) . . .; that chasm (= nothingness) . . .

    As to 'rave mute as amber', however, your guess is as good as ours. You know all the words and the grammar, now all you have to do is penetrate the author's thoughts. :) My guess, for what it's worth, is that however much is happening inside galaxies (they 'rave'), they are embedded in an infinite and silent and changeless universe ('mute as amber') far larger than the dots of the galaxies.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    To understand rave mute as amber you must first remember that amber is transparent, solidified pine tree resin in which there are often insects that were trapped when the amber formed. James Agee is likening galaxies which exist (are trapped) in outer space where there can be only silence. These galaxies are filled with violent, but silent explosions that are quite beautiful when seen from a distance.

    To rave = to argue/protest loudly (cf the explosions in the galaxies)
    mute = silent (cf no sound is heard.)
    as amber = a transparent jewel (like space) that has trapped the silent (but, we imagine, violently protesting) insect (as the galaxies are trapped in silence.)

    "that darkness" is part of the list of things that describe the "nothingness" that revealed itself:

    that permanent night upon which the stars in their expiring generations are less than the glinting of gnats, and
    [those] nebulae, more trivial than winter breath; and
    that darkness in which eternity lies bent and pale, a dead snake in a jar, and
    [in which] infinity is the sparkling of a wren blown out to sea; and
    that inconceivable chasm of invulnerable silence in which cataclysms of galaxies rave mute as amber.
     
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