Connections

Monday Morning Musings:

“In a poem, one line may hide another line,

As at a crossing, one train may hide another train.”

–From Kenneth Koch (1925-2002), “One Train May Hide Another”

Full poem here

“Two girls discover

the secret of life

in a sudden line of

poetry.”

From Denise Levertov (1923-1997), “The Secret”

Full poem here.

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Ask if–

and in the language of cool whispers

she sings,

urging us

to what we want—

to soar

Everything is connected. . .

***

The days are cold, then warm,

next comes a storm

of snow, ice, rain,

till the sun shines again

as off to Florida he goes

no emergency, everybody knows

is this the beginning or the end—

only time will tell, my friend

 

if the country lives through this mess

this miasma of awfulness

and where will we go from here–

everything connected, but not so clear

 

why birds appear, everywhere

on the water, and in the clouds

I laugh aloud to see them there

and sigh to catch one unaware

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of how his beauty brightens my day

the dreariness, the gloom, held at bay

one tree branch may hide another—

and behind that, some other–

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a bit of beauty, once unseen

now there it is, what does it mean?

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty”

I wonder–is it something in-between

 

the lines of time, of place

the love that flutters in the space

between two lines—

sometimes it shines

 

in words, in deeds, or touches in time

OK, so, I didn’t make him a Valentine–

but I prepared some fondue

and we enjoyed it—well, wouldn’t you?–

along with the dipping and drinking

wine, and laughing

just enjoying without asking

as stomachs swelling, sinking

 

with all that bread and cheese

(just a bit more, please)

then chocolate to follow–

and if I walk with a bit of a waddle

 

well, more to love,

just give me a shove,

and next day to the gym

I’ll go for me, and not for him

***

We walk through the city

cold, but in sunshine, pretty

we watch a movie about art

and connection, in nature, and the part

 

between humans in ways known and not

perhaps the person you meet, was someone caught

somehow in your life, the whys unknown, and the when

as rain falls, to nourish fields, then evaporates again

 

part of a cycle, through history and time–

love and hate, poverty, wars, crime–

and how we express these things in art,

how do we share our passion and heart?

 

The movie is about art and history,

of the artist, and the mystery

of inspiration and creation,

and of repression and degradation

 

of people by those who are supposed to serve,

but instead they swerve

to serve hate with cool efficiency–

its own mental deficiency

 

as I see it, but not the one they wished to eliminate

with a path that looked so pat and straight

sterilization and cremation,

all to build their master race and nation.

 

And yet, art remains,

strains our brains

unchains with its power

though they censor and glower

 

at artists who speak the truth

and don’t look away, (not just the youth)

or any gender or race, but there is a trace

in all of us, a creative spark, a grace–

 

well, that is what I think about,

perhaps a shout out

to how we’re connected through the ages

In different paths, and through different stages,

but for now—I’ll stop and drink some wine

pretend or find that all is fine,

connect the dots, from below to above

with my musing thoughts to ask if. . .love

 

I wasn’t certain how to begin this Monday musing, so I went to the Oracle, who gave me the opening—which fit so well– of course–and another connection.

 

We saw the movie, Never Look Away. I love that my husband, whose birthday is today, will readily go with me to see a three-hour German movie. (Dale may be the only other person I know who might see it), but we both really liked it. And it honestly did not seem that long. It’s about an artist, Kurt Barnert, based, perhaps loosely, on the life of German artist Gerhard Richter. Barnert grows up during the rise of the Nazis and WWII and then lives in East Germany. When he is a child, his beautiful and beloved aunt Elisabeth tells him to “never look away.” Through her, he is connected to art, history, and to choices— both random and those he makes in his own life. Trailer here.

We also went to a wine and chocolate tasting event at William Heritage Winery. I appear to have really enjoyed that wine. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ephemeral Beauty in the Book of My Memory

Monday Morning Musings:

In the book of my memory—the part of it before which not much is legible—there is the heading Incipit vita nova [here begins a new life].

–Dante Alihieri, Vita Nuova

“There are lovely things in the world, lovely that don’t endure, and the lovelier for that.”

–Chris Guthrie in Sunset Song

“People like films because stories are a structure, and when things turn bad it’s still part of a plan. There’s a point to it.”

–Tom Buckley in Their Finest

 

Dawn opens the book

write or draw upon the page

ephemeral life

transitory beauty, grasped,

chronicled by poet’s hand

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Every morning, I wake and turn another page,

what will be written there that day?

Not a book, a story, a movie, a play,

our lives

we plan, we think there is a structure, a plot

reasons for our rhyme

we study the past

but put our trust in hope and beauty

 

My husband and I eat Chinese food

sitting in our living room we watch a movie,

about a woman who lived a hundred years ago in Scotland,

using technology that did not exist in that era,

and that will become outdated all too soon,

it’s a rural life of hardship and beauty,

of fighting and song,

an abusive father, a depressed mother, a brother who leaves,

she puts away her books,

but there is the land to sustain her

she falls in love and marries

but the land is still there,

glowing through the director’s vision,

though the work is hard,

her husband goes to war

(the war that was to end all wars)

it changes him

it changes the nation

and all the nations that lose so many of their young men

the poets write, the tyrants sing

dulce et decomum est pro patri mori

the old lie,

that vicious lie,

life is ephemeral,

but love,

that is true and lasting

 

In the morning, I wake and turn another page,

we see another movie

this one about the next big war

about keeping the spirits up and boosting morale,

the movie is funny and charming and sad,

I enjoy it very much,

my husband does, too,

though he says, “It’s a Merril movie.”

And I guess it is,

though I’m not sure what that means,

the movie is mainly about a woman

who gets a job writing “slops,”

the women’s dialog for war movies,

this one is about unlikely women heroes at Dunkirk

the war ministry wants it to have everything though—

even an American and a dog–

and we see the writing (the clicking of typewriters)

and the construction of the movie

location and studio

while the world around them shatters,

and we know that the world will get worse,

and women will take “men’s work,”

then be forced back into their boxes,

but there is romance and Bill Nighy

and really what else do you need in a movie?

 

After the movie,

the spring day turned fine,

we walk around the old city,

where traces of the past remain,

though much has vanished,

structures, people,

and before that

giant creatures who once walked the earth

 

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American Philosophical Society

 

we drink coffee,

enjoy the view,

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laugh at the booming voice of a tour guide

helpfully informing a group that

“Carpenter’s Hall was built for carpenters.”

(though the term carpenters is misleading)

 

Nearby stood the house of a bodice-maker

now house and man, long gone—along with the fashion

all fleeting moments in time

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Carpenter’s Hall, Philadelphia

 

In a garden, we see tulips

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but many of the early spring flowers are already gone,

the petals of the flowering trees float to the ground

joining piles of catkins

(leaving pollen to blow everywhere)

the fleeting life of a butterfly,

helping to create beauty in the world,

ephemeral beauty

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the beauty of spring, fading into summer

lovely things that don’t endure

and are they lovelier for that,

and is that the point?

What will I remember,

what will be retained in the book of my memory?

These moments of beauty, I hope.

We go home

feed our cats and ourselves,

the mundane tasks of life

that have their own beauty and joy,

we sleep,

and in the morning

I wake and turn another page,

hoping for beauty, though it may not endure,

wondering if there’s a plan

wondering and hoping

holding love close

 

We watched the movie, Sunset Song, on Netflix. Here’s a review. I haven’t read the book, which I know is a classic in Scotland. We saw Their Finest in a theater. Here’s a trailer.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Not Yet Ready to Write an Elegy for the World: NaPoWriMo

Monday Morning Musings:

“See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world”

—Lucinda Williams, from the song, “Sweet Old World” (Listen here.)

“I am of certain convinced that the greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel.”

–Florence Nightingale (I could not find a source for this.)

 

When the fool becomes king

it’s difficult to celebrate

to know what is real and what is fake

(news)

a radio host said

it didn’t seem right

to slip in an April Fool’s story

because this year

 

it’s a crazy, mixed-up world

our, sweet old world

 

I dream about Mary Todd Lincoln,

grieving over her dead son and husband,

ghosts that walk the White House,

does the current resident see them,

feel the presence of the great and not so great?

Will he destroy our world?

(the news spins and whirls maddeningly)

I wonder if Mrs. Lincoln crazy,

or was it simply the world about her,

the nation torn apart,

brother fighting brother,

her husband a martyr,

and did she long then to leave this sweet old world?

 

We watch movies about strong women,

twentieth- century women,

one raising her son alone,

we eat pizza and drink some wine

because it’s a sweet old world, isn’t it?

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the woman is confused

but she does her best,

most people do

(as I hope, as I believe)

and I guess she does a good job,

because her son wants to be a good guy

who cares about women,

she does something right,

because, after all, many years later her son will make this movie,

and Annette Benning will play her,

crazy and sweet, this world.

 

The other woman hid people,

(in a zoo)

she truly lived in a crazy world

where the monsters ruled,

living in plain sight,

real human monsters

scarier than fictional demons,

the zoo became a pig farm

because the animals had been killed,

people, animals,

to monsters there is little difference,

the woman’s husband fights bravely with guns,

the woman fights with her soul,

she understands that she needs to woo the monster,

as she does an animal,

though she is terrified,

they are heroes, this couple,

in a world spinning crazily like a dreidel,

will it fall on nun, their “guests” must wonder

or will a great miracle happen there?

They saved 300 people,

perhaps a great miracle did happen there.

they raised pigs on garbage from the ghetto

(the Nazi’s love the irony)

though those in the ghetto can scarcely spare their garbage,

because they are starving

 

And I’m reading a book about a young girl who is starving

in a small, Irish village

starving for Jesus, I suppose,

subsisting on manna from heaven, she says

her nurse, her watcher,

has been trained by Florence Nightingale,

(a nineteenth-century strong woman)

I don’t know what happens,

I haven’t finished the book,

though I hope the girl eats, hope she lives,

hope she gets to grown up in this sweet and crazy world

 

And we go out to lunch,

Indian food,

discuss movies and books,

and this and that,

(not starving),

we come home,

I bake a cake–

because we need sweetness

in this crazy, mixed up world,

and I’m not ready to write its elegy

 

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Sour Cream Coffee Cake

 

It’s Day Three of NaPoWriMo. The prompt was elegy. I hope we do not yet need one for our sweet old world.

We saw the movies, 20th Century Women and The Zookeeper’s Wife.

I’m reading The Wonder, by Emma Donoghue

The Sale: Microfiction

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Antoš Frolka [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Gerda clutched the bill-of-sale in her hand, glancing with smug satisfaction at Rose Zukerman’s amethyst ring that now sat tightly on her own fleshy finger.  Franz had purchased it for her, along with the Zuckerman’s house. Gerda had always coveted that elegant townhouse with the piano (that she couldn’t play), the many books (that she would never read), and the china (that would end up broken).

They had gone to the Zuckerman’s early this morning, even though it was a Sunday. Gerda was afraid that some well-connected Party official would get the house first. They’d offered Dr. Zuckerman a fair price. Better than being thrown out, she had sniffed, when the doctor had hesitated at the offer, a sum that was far below what the house and its contents were worth.

Dr. Zuckerman was no longer allowed to treat Aryans, and most of his Jewish patients could not pay him. He could not afford to live in this splendid house, even if he was permitted to stay in it. Gerda chose to forget Dr. Zukerman’s gentle kindness. She chose to forget how he had traveled in a blizzard to treat Franz for pneumonia. Gerda brushed aside the thought that now their medical care would come from Dr. Höss with his trembling fingers and schnapps-scented breath.

I’m not a monster, Gerda thought. We’re giving them the day to pack up some personal items and food. The image of the two little Zuckerman girls with their honey-colored curls who had clung to their mother’s skirt stayed in her mind; she wondered where the family would go. Well, it’s not my concern. They’ll be with their own kind.

She understood that the hook-nosed caricatures of street posters bore no resemblance to the educated, cultured Zuckermans. But still she thought with pride that now true Germans would get their due. The Führer would make Germany great again.

She urged Franz along. She didn’t want to be late to church. She wanted to pray to God for their continued good fortune.

 

This is for Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge , but I’ve gone over the word limit. The prompt was the painting above by Antoš Frolka of a couple going to church.

 

A Wish: Microfiction

 

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By Felix Nussbaum, “Lovers,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 “Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin

Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in

Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove

Dance me to the end of love.”

–Leonard Cohen, “Dance Me to the End of Love”

 

Felix and Miriam hurried to reach the new hiding place along the coast. Felix had lost count of the number of places in which they’d hidden. Was it four? Five? In each, he had painted or sketched with whatever materials he could find. The urge to create was powerful.

Although most waterways were heavily fortified, Felix had been told the patrols in this rocky area were infrequent. Still, he wished the night was not so clear.

“I could swim to freedom from here, even with the rocks and waves,” said Miriam. She was a champion swimmer before war and restrictions intervened.

“You could, my little fish,” he replied, as he looked around. Something about the deserted quay did not feel right to Felix. He had always trusted his instincts.

“You hide here,” he told her. “I have a bad feeling about this place.  If it’s OK. I’ll let you know. If it’s a trap, you must run for freedom.”

“But I can’t leave you,” Miriam replied.

“You must. For the sake of our child.” He put his hand on her belly.

She nodded. “First though, we must make a wish on that bright star.”

They held hands and closed their eyes. Then Felix clutched her, kissed her, and left.

He entered the deserted building. In the seconds before the Germans kicked in the door, he heard a faint splash in the distance. He had a good feeling that his wish had come true, and Miriam had escaped. He smiled as they beat him, knowing in his soul, that at least one of his creations would survive.

 

This is in response to Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge.

The prompt was the painting above by Felix Nussbaum. His family were German Jews who had been proud Germans. His father was a WWI veteran. Felix and his wife, Felka, also an artist, hid in several locations before they were discovered and sent to concentration camps. Felix Nussbaum’s entire family was murdered at Auschwitz. The Leonard Cohen song played in my mind with this painting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Spring Story

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Paul Cornoyer, “Early Spring in Central Park,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

You asked me to dance in the early spring,

on the dark terrace, we kissed in the mist,

I swayed, you held me, and then said goodbye.

 

Time passed, bombs rained, farewell and goodbye.

We sat side by side (again it was spring),

there on the park bench, we kissed in the mist.

 

My vision clouded, I saw through  a mist,

one kiss, you held me, a final goodbye–

sigh, love and glory, our story in spring.

 

In spring mist we loved and said goodbye.

 

This is in response to Jane Dougherty’s poetry challenge.  This week we were to write a Tritina. She explains the form in her post, but it involves repeating three words, as you might have guessed.

My poem comes with a soundtrack. “As Time Goes By” from Casablanca, of course, from which I lifted a few words. But also, Rodgers and Hart’s wonderful, “Where or When, “

Here is Peggy Lee with the Benny Goodman Trio, recorded in December 1941, just after Pearl Harbor.

The painting is from circa 1910, but in my mind they were WWII era lovers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NaPoWriMo:Alchemy in Reverse

Cornelis_Pietersz._Bega_-_De_Alchemist

 

Alchemists from ancient times

using magic, fledgling science,

attempt to turn base metals into gold,

a noble metal, prized above all,

used for good and used for hate

but sometimes gold must not be found.

 

Boots marching through the street

Left, right, an echoing beat

 

Noble gold, Nobel medals

in Copenhagen’s streets the brightness vanishes,

yet goodness shines, the yellow stars do not appear

stars, not of twinkling beauty, but black holes of despair

In Bohr’s lab though, science triumphs over hate.

George de Hevesy and chemistry, transformation with aqua regia–

Nobel metals slowly liquefied, placed up high, inside a flask

though the boots come marching, leaving wreckage in their wake.

 

Boots marching through the street

Left, right, an echoing beat

 

And so guns, war, and people dying

death and destruction, and gold in hiding

V-E Day comes not too soon

De Hevesy reverses his steps, no magic rune,

just chemistry. Truth. He sends the gold to be restored.

Nobel medals found again, alchemy reversed, justice scored.

 

Boots marching through the street

Left, right, an echoing beat

 

NaPoWriMo, Day 26. The challenge was to write a call and refrain. I wrote a refrain, in a bop poem. I wanted to try this form after I read Jennifer Knoblock’s  bop poem here. I been fascinated by this story of the dissolved Nobel Prize medals for some time.

Danish authorities refused to cooperate with the Nazis, and violence against and deportations of Jews did not take place there until 1943. Even then, many Jews were rescued in a huge operation.  You can read more here.

 

 

 

Art and Shadows

Monday Morning Musings:

“Sweet and faraway voice flowing for me.

Sweet and faraway voice tasted by me.

Faraway and sweet voice, muffled softly.”

–Federico García Lorca (1898-1936) excerpt from “The Poet Speaks to His Beloved on the Telephone,” translated by Francisco Aragón    Full poem here.

 

We entered the installation area as the sun was setting

screens at one end of the room,

in the middle—more screens, projectors, tables,

words on the wall

Gypsy music played from the speakers—

and the telephone rang

I answered it.

the poet recited a poem in English, then in Spanish.

and then it rang again.

we wandered, looked through drawers of the nightstands,

a grasshopper,

poems,

flowers,

a butterfly

tangible traces of the poet’s words, his existence.

The performance still an hour away,

we went into the exhibition—

Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change

We saw cubist works and neoclassical,

side-by-side, as the artist

produced both styles within the same years

contradictory, bemusing critics and friends.

French nationalists condemned cubism

calling it degenerate, associating it with Germany,

spelling it “Kubism,”

though clearly French in origin.

Picasso never commented on the Great War,

though cubism, he acknowledged,

influenced

the camouflage on trucks and ships,

a strange marriage of art and war.

Denouncing art, artists, of all sorts

nations, politicians, war-mongers do this

in every war

repress freedom of speech and expression

slap on the label of nationalism

and suppress, censor

lay waste to all that does not fit

the narrow parameters and forms

of those

who are in control.

Germany destroys the work of degenerative artists

in the the next war,

destroys the artists, too.

Tyrants know the power of words, the power of art,

and music–

music is played at the concentration camps, you know,

dance me to the end of love

 

We slowly stroll back to the installation

the performance begins,

a ringing telephone

the poet runs to answer it,

then disappears,

shadow puppets blend with figures

on a screen

words

spoken

seen

a fish travels across the white surface

taking us on a journey,

Spain, New York

water, a boat, an iguana with a pipe

writing

surreal images

words of love

lush, sensual

space and time

have no boundaries,

the telephone rings

the poet imprisoned

he speaks no more

shot, silenced

but not forever

because art lives on,

art shadows our world

or perhaps it is our shadow world,

the dreams we live inside.

 

After the performance, we’re invited to look at and play with the puppets and talk to the actors, puppeteers, and musicians.

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We were at the Barnes Museum

We saw My Soul’s Shadow created and performed by Manual Cinema,

a Chicago-based company.  The performance was part of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts 2016 (PIFA), and sponsored by the Kimmel Center.

 

 

 

Ghosts

Monday Morning Musings:

“Do you remember when I was in your belly,

And I hiccupped,

And that made you laugh?”

My daughter was about three at the time

When she asked me this.

She was in the backseat of the car.

We were listening to The Sound of Music,

“Sixteen Going on Seventeen”

I think,

Because she thought Rolf was funny

In the movie—

That’s before he becomes a Nazi,

If you’re keeping track.

I was startled by the question

She so casually threw out to me

And soon forgot.

Could she have actually remembered

A time before she was born?

Another day

My older daughter and I sat at the breakfast table

And discovered we had had the same dream

The night before.

How is this possible?

I don’t have a clue.

And the dream itself is long gone,

Vanished into that gray mist

Of long lost thoughts.

I think it involved a flute,

But I could be wrong.

I should have written it down,

But I was not in the habit of recording things then.

I think of a young girl who

Decades ago now,

Recorded the her daily life

Living in a Secret Annex

With eight other people

For two years

Until they were discovered.

Despite the world crashing

Around her

She believed people were

Basically kind.

Only her father lived

Through the horror though.

But her words remain.

Ghosts of a sort,

They conjure up the past

And people who exist now

Only in black and white images

And in her vivid descriptions.

I think about an episode of The Twilight Zone*—

A former S.S. Captain revisits

Dachau

He is driven insane by the ghosts of the inmates

He tormented.

They try him for crimes against humanity.

I think of horrors and war crimes that still go on.

I wonder if the tormentors are ever tormented

By ghosts

And if they live in their own Twilight Zone hell.

I hope they do.

Is that wrong?

I read in the newspaper that Philadelphia

Is planning to celebrate a day of kindness.

Surely, that should be every day,

But still

It is something.

Perhaps a truce for a day is better

Than nothing

Like the Christmas peace in the trenches

During WWI.

Ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future.

Did you know there was a spiritualism craze

In the nineteenth-century?

And séances in the White House?

Humans trying to make sense

Of the unknown.

I sometimes enjoy the tingle

Of reading fictional tales of haunted houses

And spectral beings who bump and thump

In the night.

But real life horror is different.

And scarier.

There are ghosts that I feel duty-bound

To remember.

To honor.

To try to make sense of.

There are many types of ghosts though.

Not only the tormented souls

Stuck in time and space

Unable to move

Forward

Or to find peace.

There are ghosts of our own pasts, too.

Happy ghosts.

Some live as memories

In our hearts and minds

They bring us comfort,

Make us smile,

And they make me wonder.

Embed from Getty Images

*”Deaths-Head Revisited”(Season 3, Episode 9, written by Rod Serling, originally aired, November 10, 1961.)

Love and Marriage, Part 2: War

There are marriages that turn into war zones, as husband and wife become enemy combatants in the trenches and minefields of their shared lives. But sometimes partners who love each other have the misfortune to live or to be separated during an actual war and to live in a real war zone.

 

Lovers parted by war. It’s a theme found in ancient myths and stories, as well as more recent tales. Homer’s famous epic poem, The Odyssey, is the story of Odysseus, as he journeys back to his home and his wife Penelope in Ithaca, following the Trojan War. The Odyssey has provided inspiration for many works. In 1997, for example, Charles Frazier recast The Odyssey as a Civil War tale in the novel Cold Mountain. In this story, W.P. Inman, a wounded Confederate soldier, becomes a deserter. As he travels back home to find his love, Ada, he is helped and hindered by people and situations resembling some of those in The Odyssey. Although they knew each other only briefly, it is the thought of seeing Ada that keeps Inman going. The story alternates with Inman and Ada narrating chapters. Ada learns how to survive and finds strength she never dreamed she had. The novel was made into a successful movie and will soon be an opera.

 
The wonderful quirky 2000 film, O Brother, Where Art Thou? by Joel and Ethan Coen, was also loosely based on The Odyssey. It involves 1930s-era escaped convicts led by Ulysses Everett McGill, played by George Clooney. It also boasts a wonderful soundtrack of country, bluegrass, blues, and gospel that features Allison Krause, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, The Soggy Bottom Boys, and others.

 
But the reality of war is something else. It boasts soundtracks of battle cries, tears, moans, gunshots, and bombs, as well as music. War separates soldiers and their families, sometimes forever. Those in the midst of battles and ambushes might literally fight for their lives, while those left at home are sometimes left to face occupying troops or deserters, destruction of their homes, and food shortages. The recent tragic and sometimes horrifying news from places all over the globe demonstrates that these situations still exist. We humans are very good at finding ways to destroy our cultures and ourselves.

 
And yet, love endures. Goodness, hope, and beauty endure.
“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.”
–Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl

 
As I work on my next project, an encyclopedia of daily life during the American Revolution, I’m reminded of two things—life goes on during war AND daily life is changed by war. Sometimes it is undeniably and irrevocably changed, for the better or for the worse. For many Americans, the era of the American Revolution is confined to images of “Patriots” fighting “Redcoats,” the “Founding Fathers” gathering in Philadelphia, and perhaps some faint knowledge of the Boston Tea Party. It is something remote. But of course, as in all wars, there were real people who fought, died, profited, mourned, and just went on living. There were also those left at home who planted crops, sewed and washed clothing, gave birth, committed crimes, were victims of crimes, wrote poetry, got drunk, lived, and died. And they loved and were loved.

 
Those who were literate and had access to paper, ink, and a way to get letters delivered, attempted to communicate with their friends and family.

 
“I am rejoiced to hear you are well; “I want to know many more perticuliars than you wrote me, and hope soon to hear from you again. I dare not trust myself with the thought of how long you may [illegible] perhaps be absent. I only count the weeks already past, and they amount to 5.”
–Abigail Adams to John Adams, 14-16 September 1774

 
War. It goes on. But so does love.

 
In one of the most poignant and beautiful letters that emerged from the blood and horror of the American Civil War are these lines from Sullivan Ballou to his wife Sarah:

 
Sarah, never forget how much I love you, nor that, when my last breath escapes me on the battle-field, it will whisper your name.”

 
Sullivan Ballou was killed at the first Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861.
You can read the entire letter here.
http://www.nps.gov/resources/story.htm?id=253