Powers of poetry
A long time ago, on a summer afternoon of hot sun in a blue sky, and cool pleasant shade in groves of trees, I was out for a walk with others in Northern California, on a path through woods and fields, hills and meadows, very near suburbs and towns, when we came to an excavation below us, down the side of the small hill we had topped. At the level bottom, a dirt road was rutted where trucks had been taking away loads of the exposed gravel. To us, looking down the gravel slope perhaps 80 feet, and able to see outward some distance because of our elevation, the place was perhaps no more than an unsurprising failed enterprise of some construction company not far away, and it somewhat spoiled our illusion of being away from settled places that afternoon.
Without a word, one of my friends, a tall, athletic man, a fellow graduate student, quickly strode and slid down the scree of the angled gravel face to the bottom, turned and stood facing us, and aiming his voice at us, began to chant from memory the opening lines of the Iliad in Greek.
His voice carried to us very clearly, just as if we had been where he wanted us to imagine we were–in a (ruined) ancient Greek or Roman theater. And the dusty gravel was for a moment as good as cut and polished (and fallen) marble, and the hot sun was Greek, and the scent of nearby laurel trees was, too, even though not one of us could understand the words he was saying. We knew, though, what he was doing.