The rays of the sun are painting the opposite ridge, there at the top of the valley, with warm yellows, glittering golds. But they reach only halfway down, way short of the bluish mist that is still blanketing the bottom of the valley.
Here, under this cover, it is an eerie sight. One cloud of murk after another drift aimlessly in the air. In the thick haze I step among rocks and bodies, barely noting the difference between one immobile shape and another. I am finding my way by touch rather than by vision. All the while I am grateful, so grateful that the vultures are nowhere in sight. In the distance I spot an outline of a dog here, a dog there, sniffing the remains with their tails between their legs.
And for the first time in my life I pray for help. I look up the slope searching, hoping for something divine, something that will guide me, show me the path out of this dark passage. I cry out to God, bless me, sustain me, protect me... You are the only shield I have against my foes, the shadow by my right hand.
Now I hear the babbling of a brook, and before long I am sloshing my way through it. This must be the border, the natural border between us and the Philistines. From here on I am encroaching on the turf of the enemy. I stop to choose five pebbles from the brook. Four of them I put in my pouch, and one in the knot of my sling.
My wrist is ready. I peer through the mist, listening intently for the voice of the Philistine.
“Coward,” he howls, and his voice rattles me. It sounds so close that for a second, I am stunned.
It is then that rays of light finger the mist, first with some hesitation. Then with a rip, they pierce through it, and are now shining directly upon him.
His heavy ankles, covered with bronze leg armors, are planted slightly above the level of my eyes, on a ledge up there, at the opposite side. As the light becomes sharper, so does his shadow. With a steep slant, it is cascading over the limestone outcrops. There is Goliath, overshadowing me.
David et Philistaenus by Salvador Dali, 1964
David and Goliath by Degas
David by Bernini
Degas, the French painter, said, "Painting s easy for those who do not know how, but very difficulties for those who do!" You can see how true this is in these three images that depict the same moment in the story, just before the battle between David and Goliath has been decided. The first piece of art that inspired my writing is a gouache painting by Salvador Dali, depicting the moment the pebble hit the giant and the spilling and spreading of blood. The second is by Degas, where we stand close to David and see the arena close to his point of view. And the third is by Bernini, who is known for his dynamic marble sculptures. here he delivers a contemplative moment, depicting David with great warmth as a youth heading for battle.
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