Tuesday, June 22, 2004

From the Better Crowd 

I picked up a book tonight while on the throne, and opened to this passage.
The cruel war was over -- oh, the triumph was so sweet!
We watched the troops returning, through our tears;
There was triumph, triumph, triumph down the scarlet glittering street,
And you scarce could hear the music for the cheers.
And you scarce could see the house-tops for the flags that flew between;
The bells were pealing madly to the sky;
And everyone was shouting for the Soldiers of the Queen,
And the glory of an age was passing by.

And then there came a shadow, swift and sudden, dark and drear;
The bells were silent, not an echo stirred.
The flags were drooping sullenly, the men forgot to cheer;
We waited, and we never spoke a word.
The sky grew darker, darker, till from out the gloomy rack
There came a voice that checked the heart with dread:
"Tear down, tear down your bunting now, and hang up sable black;
They are coming -- it's the Army of the Dead."

They were coming, they were coming, gaunt and ghastly, sad and slow;
They were coming, all the crimson wrecks of pride;
With faces seared, and cheeks red smeared, and haunting eyes of woe,
And clotted holes the khaki couldn't hide.
Oh, the clammy brow of anguish! the livid, foam-flecked lips!
The reeling ranks of ruin swept along!
The limb that trailed, the hand that failed, the bloody finger tips!
And oh, the dreary rhythm of their song!

"They left us on the veldt-side, but we felt we couldn't stop
On this, our England's crowning festal day;
We're the men of Magersfontein, we're the men of Spion Kop,
Colenso -- we're the men who had to pay.
We're the men who paid the blood-price. Shall the grave be all our gain?
You owe us. Long and heavy is the score.
Then cheer us for our glory now, and cheer us for our pain,
And cheer us as ye never cheered before."

The folks were white and stricken, and each tongue seemed weighted with lead;
Each heart was clutched in hollow hand of ice;
And every eye was staring at the horror of the dead,
The pity of the men who paid the price.
They were come, were come to mock us, in the first flush of our peace;
Through writhing lips their teeth were all agleam;
They were coming in their thousands -- oh, would they never cease!
I closed my eyes, and then -- it was a dream.

There was triumph, triumph, triumph down the scarlet gleaming street;
The town was mad; a man was like a boy.
A thousand flags were flaming where the sky and city meet;
A thousand bells were thundering the joy.
There was music, mirth and sunshine; but some eyes shone with regret;
And while we stun with cheers our homing braves,
O God, in Thy great mercy, let us nevermore forget
The graves they left behind, the bitter graves.

Robert Service, "The March of the Dead", 1907.

A feast for thought.

PS. I had originally written Robert Station for some reason. Robert Service-Station. Pumping out all the sombre hits.


Monday, June 21, 2004


All due apologies. Man. I have not kept on top of this thing as much as I'd like. In explanation, there are two main reasons:

1) Work. Working takes work. And I'm working a lot. I know, I know, Noam Chomsky works a lot, and he still has time to post a blog. Noam Chomsky, however, I am not. I often get home at 5:30 in the morning (seriously) and after 12 hours of watching video, the last thing I want to do is look at the computer screen for another two. Enough said. I could push through if I really wanted to, and force myself to make entries (as I was, with rewarding results, when I started this), but that brings us to category two

2) Fatigue. Fatigue is tiring. And I'm tired, physically and mentally. Yes, spiritually. Now, this is not a complaint but a statement of fact. As it were, this is some of the healthiest fatigue I've felt in a long time. And while I remain passionate about the world, its state, and the ultimate removal of George W. Bush and his cabal (and, eventually, all governments everywhere, ahem) I am suffering from a general fatigue of the issues. "The issues." They are too many to mention and too dynamic to break apart -- at least for now. Nor do I possess the same veracity I once did that my opinions of events outside my ken taking place across the globe, actually mean anything. Yes, they sometimes sound nice, but let's face it: I'm a kid with a computer who likes to read his shit in print. That's about it.

I'm not losing faith, hope, energy or any of that; I'm just taking a nice little break which happens to be filled with 65-hour work weeks.

I shall be back, however. I felt a small tug over the weekend when I laid out the Sunday Times, shaking my head over its contents, teeth grinding and all. There's plenty to write cynically about yet.


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