There is one thing I like about the Poles—their language. Polish, when it is spoken by intelligent people, puts me in ecstasy. The sound of the language evokes strange images in which there is always a greensward of fine spiked grass in which hornets and snakes play a great part. I remember days long back when Stanley would invite me to visit his relatives; he used to make me carry a roll of music because he wanted to show me off to these rich relatives. I remember this atmosphere well because in the presence of these smooth−tongued, overly polite, pretentious and thoroughly false Poles I always felt miserably uncomfortable. But when they spoke to one another, sometimes in French, sometimes in Polish, I sat back and watched them fascinatedly. They made strange Polish grimaces, altogether unlike our relatives who were stupid barbarians at bottom. The Poles were like standing snakes fitted up with collars of hornets. I never knew what they were talking about but it always seemed to me as if they were politely assassinating some one. They were all fitted up with sabres and broad−swords which they held in their teeth or brandished fiercely in a thundering charge. They never swerved from the path but rode rough−shod over women and children, spiking them with long pikes beribboned with blood−red pennants. All this, of course, in the drawing−room over a glass of strong tea, the men in butter−colored gloves, the women dangling their silly lorgnettes. The women were always ravishingly beautiful, the blonde houri type garnered centuries ago during the Crusades. They hissed their long polychromatic words through tiny, sensual mouths whose lips were soft as geraniums. These furious sorties with adders and rose petals made an intoxicating sort of music, a steel−stringed zithery slipper−gibber which could also register anomalous sounds like sobs and falling jets of water.
Henry Miller