to me it has a hollow ring in the sense that it reaches for easy images of the eternal/sublime; there's a certain (ersatz?) melvillian poetry to it but melville's extraordinary rhetorical flights are balanced by reams of careful exposition. even then I don't think melville would speak of the 'vast soul' of a whale, perhaps because he knew a bit about whales, so he's better at describing what happens when you harpoon them, scoop out their fat and boil it down
Whoah, that's great... It would be interesting to hear exactly how you guys define prose in this context.
For me, the above might be a bit too conceptual, maybe more in line with theme or plot than what I'd normally consider prose. The taste and content of the imagery surely figure in, but much later, after what DeLillo likes to call the brute electricity of sound, that initial attack on the senses that your body will either accept or repel on instinct. For me, McCarthy's got that in spades. That ability to lift the hair on your arms through his particular refinement of ancient rhythms. Peel the sentences of meaning (or at least create silly new ones), and you might see this clearer. (At least I do):
I would still take that over most!
Not that anyone discounts this -- just for me, this kind of thing supersedes anything more intellectual or abstract when trying to rank beauty.