Why is it great? This is exciting — a guest submission from Pulitzer Prize winner Maria Henson, whose series of editorials on battered women in Kentucky was awarded the prize for Editorial Writing in 1992. (See her piece for Nieman Reports on the origins of the series here.) Of this line from Annie Dillard, Maria writes, “The sentence sums up humanity, cradle to grave.” But she also loves the rest of the paragraph: “Falling from airplanes the people are crying thank you, thank you, all down the air; and the cold carriages draw up for them on the rocks. Divinity is not playful. The universe was not made in jest but in solemn incomprehensible earnest. By a power that is unfathomably secret, and holy, and fleet. There is nothing to be done about it, but ignore it, or see. And then you walk fearlessly, eating what you must, growing wherever you can, like the monk on the road who knows precisely how vulnerable he is, who takes no comfort among death-forgetting men, and who carries his vision of vastness and might around in his tunic like a live coal which neither burns nor warms him, but with which he will not part.” (Oh, and we’d love to get more guest submissions for the One Great Sentence feature. Send them to editor@niemanstoryboard.org.)


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