Thursday, September 11, 2014

"Danse Macabre"

"It's farewell to the drawing room's mannerly cry,
The professor's logical whereto and why,
The frock-coated diplomat's polished aplomb,
Now matters are settled with gas and with bomb….

So good-bye to the house with its wallpaper red,
Good-bye to the sheets on the warm double bed,
Good-bye, dear heart, good-bye to you all.

W. H. Auden

When Auden wrote this in the 1930s, already the diplomat was becoming obsolete. The statesmen of old? What use would they be now? Can you reason with a terrorist? 

I try to keep Dewena's Window positive, try to keep its issues within my sphere of influence. But how many years will pass before any of us awake on September 11 without immediately thinking of that day in 2001? 

The day the World Trade Center collapsed into ashes, part of the Pentagon was destroyed, and major airlines were hijacked as weapons of murder. A day that changed our lives forever even if we were not among the day's victims.

That morning here in Tennessee began as a lovely early autumn day with our windows open to a refreshing breeze and the sky intensely blue and cloud-free. It turned out to be similar to another day that Richard M. Kitchum wrote about in The Borrowed Years, 1938-1941: America on the Way to War.

"The one thing everyone in Europe could agree on was the weather: it was the most hauntingly beautiful springtime in memory--soft, radiant, dazzling days stretching on one after another as if to blind people of what was to come."

These are the things we remember after catastrophe strikes: how we stretched when we awoke that morning and threw back the covers in anticipation of the day ahead, what we had for breakfast, waving goodbye to the children before they got on the school bus, the grocery list the most important thing on our mind. 

And all along, if we had known, "It's farewell to the drawing-room's mannerly cry."

That is what I'm thinking of today. That farewell to a life of reason. Of being blind to what is to come. Tomorrow I will move on and cope. Today I will mourn as W.H. Auden did in "Danse Macabre" and pray that we heed his warning.

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