Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Let us look at her now, let us see her plain,
She will never be quite like this again.
Her house is rocking under the blast
And she hears it tremble, and still stands fast,
But this is the last, this is the last.
The last of the wine and the white corn meal,
The last high fiddle singing the reel,
The last of the silk with the Paris label,
The last blood-thoroughbred safe in the stable
- Yellow corn meal and a jackass colt,
A door that swings on a broken bolt,
Brittle old letters spotted with tears
And a wound that rankles for fifty years -
This is the last of  Wingate Hall,
The last bright August before the Fall,
Death  has been near, and Death has passed,
But this is the last, this is the last.
There will be hope, and a scratching pen,
There will be cooking for tired men,
The waiting for news with shut, hard fists,
And the blurred, strange names in the battle-lists,
The April sun and the April rain,
But never this day come back again.

Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown's Body, excerpt from Book IV

There are no apocalypses, no universal objective ends, not that we know of.  But for every life, there is a last bright August before the Fall, and some feel it, that cold whisper of winter in the pre-harvest heat of rank summer, the first leaf falling far in advance of the turning of the color, the weather turning for him and him alone.  Our endings are individual, no matter how we project them onto the screen of our times.  The best we can do is not let our times project themselves upon us, prematurely.  I would like to think that the Mayan and the Camping raptures were a passing thing, but such projections of individual ends of the world will no doubt continue, as failures mount, and the brightness fades from more family fires.

The hills are echoing with Feu de joie, and fireworks, but this year, they sing to me:
There is no future, there is no past,
There is only this hour and it goes fast,
Hurry, hurry, this is the last,
This is the last,
This is the last.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Stephen Vincent Benet is an unjustly neglected American artist.

Doug M.