The magnificent, visionary conclusion of D.H. Lawrence's novel "The Rainbow" (1915), in which Ursula, looking out over the bleak, ugly industrialized landscape of the English Midlands, witnesses the formation of a rainbow, clearly makes my list. In the rainbow is the promise of transformation, of a new beginning for the desecrated earth and the stunted people who inhabit it. I first read this novel nearly 30 years ago, and I reread the final pages so many times I could almost recite them from memory. As humanity continues to disfigure the earth every day, maybe this passage should be pinned up in public places where it can be read aloud as our collective declaration of hope and renewal for the 21st century, a vision of “the world built up in a living fabric of Truth, fitting to the over-arching heaven.”
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