City of Brass? Maybe Not

Andrea Widburg at American Thinker noticed something about Super Tuesday that hasn’t been much remarked on.

The obvious news is that many voters, after staring into the abyss of Bernie Sanders’ socialism and seeing Fidel Castro looking back at them, are turning to Biden as their preferred candidate. Biden, after looking like a loser last week, is looking like a contender this week.

The less obvious news, though, is that in many states there was a real fire among Republicans, even though Donald Trump is a virtually uncontested incumbent. People ought to be staying home but in several states they are voting for Trump in droves.

She’s right, and the numbers are interesting (quoting from her article).

  • Alabama: 387,762 people voted in the Democrat primary, with Biden winning.  Meanwhile, 623,732 people voted in the Republican primary, with Trump receiving 613,799 votes.
  • Arkansas: 216,840 people voted in the Democrat primary, with Biden winning.  Meanwhile, 233,898 people voted in the Republican primary, with Trump receiving 227,078 votes.
  • In North Carolina, with 101.34% of votes counted (yes, you read that correctly), 1,258,615 people voted in the Democrat primary, with Biden winning.  Meanwhile, 781,960 people voted in the Republican primary, with Trump receiving 750,074 votes.
  • There are more in her article, but that is enough, I think, to make the point.

It’s almost like people aren’t tired of winning yet, and are willing to make the effort, even when it actually makes little difference. If I was a Democrat, those numbers would scare the daylights out of me.

But, Thank God, I’m not and this is one of the most hopeful signs I’ve seen.

Too often, we hear all the noise and predictions of doom, and we think it’s hopeless, but it’s not if we keep pushing. If we don’t, we will become Kipling’s City of Brass. How he could foresee this back in 1909 is a wonder, but he did.

“Here was a people whom after their works
thou shalt see wept over for their lost dominion:
and in this palace is the last information
respecting lords collected in the dust.”

The Arabian Nights.
In a land that the sand overlays – the ways to her gates are untrod –
A multitude ended their days whose gates were made splendid by God,
Till they grew drunk and were smitten with madness and went to their fall,
And of these is a story written: but Allah Alone knoweth all!

When the wine stirred in their heart their bosoms dilated.
They rose to suppose themselves kings over all things created –
To decree a new earth at a birth without labour or sorrow –
To declare: “We prepare it to-day and inherit to-morrow.”
They chose themselves prophets and priests of minute understanding,
Men swift to see done, and outrun, their extremest commanding –
Of the tribe which describe with a jibe the perversions of Justice –
Panders avowed to the crowd whatsoever its lust is.

Swiftly these pulled down the walls that their fathers had made them –
The impregnable ramparts of old, they razed and relaid them
As playgrounds of pleasure and leisure, with limitless entries, 
And havens of rest for the wastrels where once walked the sentries;
And because there was need of more pay for the shouters and marchers,
They disbanded in face of their foemen their yeomen and archers.
They replied to their well-wishers’ fears – to their enemies laughter,
Saying: “Peace! We have fashioned a God Which shall save us hereafter.
We ascribe all dominion to man in his factions conferring,
And have given to numbers the Name of the Wisdom unerring.”

They said: “Who has hate in his soul? Who has envied his neighbour?
Let him arise and control both that man and his labour.”
They said: “Who is eaten by sloth? Whose unthrift has destroyed him?
He shall levy a tribute from all because none have employed him.”
They said: “Who hath toiled, who hath striven, and gathered possession?
Let him be spoiled. He hath given full proof of transgression.”
They said: “Who is irked by the Law? Though we may not remove it.
If he lend us his aid in this raid, we will set him above it!
So the robber did judgment again upon such as displeased him,
The slayer, too, boasted his slain, and the judges released him.

As for their kinsmen far off, on the skirts of the nation,
They harried all earth to make sure none escaped reprobation.
They awakened unrest for a jest in their newly-won borders,
And jeered at the blood of their brethren betrayed by their orders.
They instructed the ruled to rebel, their rulers to aid them;
And, since such as obeyed them not fell, their Viceroys obeyed them.
When the riotous set them at naught they said: “Praise the upheaval!
For the show and the world and the thought of Dominion is evil!”
They unwound and flung from them with rage, as a rag that defied them,
The imperial gains of the age which their forefathers piled them.
They ran panting in haste to lay waste and embitter for ever 
The wellsprings of Wisdom and Strengths which are Faith and Endeavour.
They nosed out and digged up and dragged forth and exposed to derision
All doctrine of purpose and worth and restraint and prevision:

And it ceased, and God granted them all things for which they had striven,
And the heart of a beast in the place of a man’s heart was given. . . .

               .          .        .          .          .           .          .          .           

When they were fullest of wine and most flagrant in error,
Out of the sea rose a sign – out of Heaven a terror.
Then they saw, then they heard, then they knew – for none troubled to hide it,
A host had prepared their destruction, but still they denied it.
They denied what they dared not abide if it came to the trail;
But the Sward that was forged while they lied did not heed their denial.
It drove home, and no time was allowed to the crowd that was driven.
The preposterous-minded were cowed – they thought time would be given.
There was no need of a steed nor a lance to pursue them;
It was decreed their own deed, and not a chance, should undo them.  
The tares they had laughingly sown were ripe to the reaping.
The trust they had leagued to disown was removed from their keeping.
The eaters of other men’s bread, the exempted from hardship,
The excusers of impotence fled, abdicating their wardship,
For the hate they had taught through the State brought the State no defender,
And it passed from the roll of the Nations in headlong surrender!

A Turning Point?

In The Telegraph the other day, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote about the watershed that Brexit is for Britain.

None of Europe’s underlying pathologies have been tackled. It is a spectator as America and China battle for technological supremacy in the 21st Century. Not a single one of the world’s 20 most valuable tech companies is European.

The reasons lie in the EU’s legal ethos, in its slow, rigid, regulatory system, and in 190,000 pages of Acquis Communautaire that is nigh impossible to repeal – the very rules that Britain must supposedly accept in perpetuity to conduct routine trade.

“We have a cultural problem in Europe: you cannot embrace new technology unless you accept risk, and the EU is afraid of risk,” I was told once by Emma Marcegaglia, then head of BusinessEurope.

How very true that is, as we all know, “No risk, no gain”. But in many ways that is the corporatist (and the EU is the most corporatist entity in the world) vision of heaven. Protected for all time by their lackeys in government from innovation and change, their future is assured. Or is it?

The precautionary principle was frozen into EU jurisprudence with the Amsterdam Treaty in 1997 – which is roughly when the EU started going into economic decline, though this is hard to separate from the parallel euro experiment.

The US cleaves instead to the ‘innovation principle’, the doctrine of cost-benefit analysis based on hard science. American tradition is trial-and-error, policed by lawsuits for abusers.

Behind this is the spirit of English Common Law: crudely, anything is allowed unless explicitly forbidden; so far removed from the Napoleonic Code that curtails all until explicitly authorised. Anglo-Saxon law is why the US ran away with the internet age while Europe never left the starting line.

The UK has been caught on the wrong side of the cultural divide within the EU. The risk-aversion culture has been a headwind for British biotech and its tech “unicorns” (private start-ups worth a $1bn), third in the world behind the US and China, with most of Europe straggling far behind.

And it has been getting nothing but worse for Britain, who we Americans should remember, invented many of the things that we developed into world-beating things and technologies, and that includes the computer and the internet. This, if Boris does it right is the promise of Brexit. For most of our history, Britain has been the great inventor, and we have been the great developer. It the partnership that has made the world modern.

So how did Britain come to join the EEC/EU? Conservative Home in an article by Joe Baron sheds some light.

During World War Two, the contradiction immanent in Britain’s fight for freedom against Nazi imperialism whilst presiding over the largest seaborne empire in history was necessarily ignored. After victory, however, this was no longer possible. It had to be confronted.

The British empire had become morally unjustifiable and consequently unsustainable, as well as, after the financial strain of the war, economically unviable to boot. In 1947, the jewel in Britain’s imperial crown was granted independence and violently partitioned into Pakistan and India; Ghana gained independence in 1957 and Nigeria in 1960; indeed, throughout the 1950s and 60s, Britain’s imperial possessions fell, like dominoes, into the hands of charismatic, indigenous leaders armed with the language of liberty devised by the British themselves.

Britain had become a shadow of its former glory. Britannia no longer bestraddled the world, mistress of the seas, trident in hand; instead, she sat passively, seeking handouts from her new creditor and master on the other side of the Atlantic – an ocean once dominated by the imposing guns of her navy. In 1956, in a final coup de grace, her master and patron chased her out of Suez with a swift, humiliating reproach. Britain’s hegemony was at an end.

We, in America, never realized how deeply Suez hurt our cousins, to have a President, who they thought their friend, so summarily to tell them to back off, rankled deeply, especially after all the other things that had been going bad.

This is the prelude to joining the EU and indeed one of the underlying causes of that which some of us, even here, remember as the British Disease. Truly could Dean Acheson say, “Britain has lost an empire and not yet found a role”. It was a very low period for the cousins, and just about everything seemed to be going to hell in a handcart for them. But things started changing in the 80s.

However, Thatcher changed everything. Her radical reforms, unapologetic patriotism, uncompromising will and remarkable character lifted the nation out of its post-war torpor and restored its self-confidence. The unions were tamed, fiscal profligacy was replaced by fiscal restraint, markets were liberalised, inefficient nationalised industries privatised, inflation was controlled and, consequently, annual growth exceeded four per cent during the late 1980s.

A British ‘economic miracle’ was being enviously mooted on the continent – a truly remarkable turnaround from the stagnation and misery afflicting the nation just 10 years earlier. Successive governments, even Labour ones, refused to reverse the Iron Lady’s reforms and, in 2015, Britain became the fifth largest economy in the world, largely thanks to her courageous endeavours – wisely left to bear fruit by her successors.

Most important, though, was the national pride restored by Thatcher’s indomitable spirit and sense of moral purpose. Along with Ronald Reagan, she led the free world’s fight against the inhumanity of Soviet communism; in 1982, she ignored her doubters and successfully dispatched a task force to wrestle back the Falkland Islands from Argentina’s military junta; and in 1990, just before her downfall, she encouraged George Bush senior, then American president, to dispense with the wobbling and stand firm against Saddam Hussein after his unprovoked attack on Kuwait. Like Britannia, Thatcher bestrode the global stage, handbag in hand, and gave Britain back its pride and self-confidence.

That this national revival led to rising public disaffection with the EU cannot be gainsaid. Why should a wealthy, self-confident country like Britain sacrifice its sovereignty to a sclerotic, unresponsive, undemocratic, supranational and meddlesome bureaucracy like the European Union? On 23rd June 2016, the answer was clear: it shouldn’t – a decision that, after three and  a half years, was reaffirmed by Johnson’s election victory.

If Britain joined what was to become the EU in a moment of disorientation and self-doubt, it voted out as a confident, self-assured, optimistic, outward-looking and independent nation state. For this, we have Thatcher to thank. And as a delicious accompaniment, she posthumously drove a stake through the heart of her vampiric nemesis, Michael Heseltine. Victory has never been sweeter.

And like here in America, it was done not by the elites and what we call Wall Street. It was done by the people themselves, what in America is Main Steet and in Britain is High Street. It amounts to a counter-revolution on both sides of the Atlantic, in which we are feeding off of and celebrating each other’s victories. The special relationship hasn’t been this strong since World War II, and as then it is a bond between our peoples, both sets of which Hillary would call thick Deplorables. For her class, she was correct, but not for our peoples

Do read the links, there’s lots of very good information there.

DC Whispers has a very thinly sourced story up that President Trump and Queen Elizabeth are now working together to defeat the swamp which is deep in both countries.

And helping in that particular endeavor is none other than the Queen who is said to have taken a keen interest in pushing for a more full disclosure of the part some high-ranking British officials played in the before and after manipulations that ran rampant around America’s 2016 presidential election.

Great Britain, with the full consent of the Queen, now prepares to save Western Civilization on the European continent while President Trump works to do the same here in the United States. Neither battle will be easy. The enemies of both the Queen and President Trump are more volatile / agitated than ever.

Is it true? I have no idea. But it would be a most formidable team. But it is not impossible, HMQ is, of course, the very last world leader who learned directly from that great Anglo-American, Sir Winston Churchill. One hopes it is true. Reminds me of a bit of lesser-known Kipling.

“This is the State above the Law.
    The State exists for the State alone.”
[This is a gland at the back of the jaw,
    And an answering lump by the collar-bone.]
Some die shouting in gas or fire;
    Some die silent, by shell and shot.
Some die desperate, caught on the wire;
    Some die suddenly. This will not.
“Regis suprema voluntas Lex”
    [It will follow the regular course of—throats.]
Some die pinned by the broken decks,
    Some die sobbing between the boats.
Some die eloquent, pressed to death
    By the sliding trench as their friends can hear.
Some die wholly in half a breath.
    Some—give trouble for half a year.
“There is neither Evil nor Good in life.
    Except as the needs of the State ordain.”
[Since it is rather too late for the knife,
    All we can do is mask the pain.]
From A Death Bed.

Fairy Tales for adults

Back in 2015, as she started blogging once again, after her illness, Jessica posted a song, which I understand is a very popular Christmas song in Britain. While I was overjoyed that she had returned to us, the situation was gloomy indeed, the Brexit vote which started the renaissance of the Anglo-Saxons was still 6 months in the future, and for us Trump was still mostly a joke. 

Thus this song hit home with its pathos and broken dreams. I commented that day:

Probably you are a girl whose view of America was shaped by movies. But what movies, and so what, a lot of American girls, and guys like me, were too.

It is an unusual Christmas song, one I hadn’t run across, but I like it, a lot. And you know, you’re right again, it couldn’t be a “Fairytale of London, or Paris, or Dublin, although it could be of Dubuque, or Omaha, or a thousand other places, large and small, in America. In an acorn shell, that is the American Dream, you haven’t lost until you quit.

Nothing, really to do with material success, although we talk a lot about that, and that is important, because we really do want our kids to have it better than we did, and we’ve usually managed to make it so.

Another one of your outstanding posts, dearest friend. 🙂 xx

And I retract not a single word of that. And mind both we and the British have a long road ahead of us to restore our nations to their proper place, but perhaps we are seeing “the end of the beginning”, as Churchill said after El Alamein. The main thing is that we remember that it is up to us, nobody is going to do it for us.

The comments on her post are still worth a read, so the original is here. The rest of this post is exactly as she published it 4 years ago. Neo

One of the songs that marks Christmas for me is ‘Fairy Tale of New York’, with the Pogues and the wonderful Kirsty MacColl; if I ever wanted to be anyone but me, it was Kirsty. I remember asking my daddy why he couldn’t marry her because she would make a good mum – he laughed and said ‘she’s already taken little one’; seemed a good idea to me – fathers, let the tiniest obstacle get in the way 🙂

It’s an odd Christmas song, but it is a powerful one, because, in part it reflects a version of the immigrant experience which fails to make it into the Hollywood version. The two characters are Irish immigrants, not too long out of the ‘awld country’ – he still says ‘happy Christmas babe’ (an American would surely say “merry Christmas”? She still uses the English vulgarity “happy Christmas my arse” rather than the American “ass”. Their dreams have soured – he’s in the drunk tank on Christmas Eve, and she hopes it is their last time. There is a sadness, the sadness that accompanies the death of any relationship. But is it dead? One of the reasons – apart from powerful lyrics and a great performance, it still works, is that like all good fiction, it doesn’t tell you what you’d like to know – it leaves loose ends and inferences you could read any way you liked.

So, when he says ‘I could have been someone’, she says cynically. ‘well so could anyone’, but his reply to her claim that he took her dreams away is heartbreaking in its vulnerability – ‘I kept them with me babe, I put them with my own, can’t make it on my own, built them round you’. What a world there is in all of that, of young love frustrated, of ambition broken by circumstances, but also of the hope that springs eternal in the human heart – and the American dream.

Isn’t that what America is really about? That vision, that idea? Has there ever been a country founded on an idea of hope? Has there ever been such a hodge-podge of immigrants all battling and hoping, some falling, some rising, but however low you fall, always with the hope of rising? Is that why so many now feel a sense of despair – as though those times are gone?

I’m only a Welsh girl living far away, and probably, like Shane MacGowan, with a vision of America shaped by the movies, but I’d like to think that, just like the couple in the song, the fairy tale has a happy ending – and, of course, if it isn’t a happy ending, it isn’t the end yet.

For Christians, we are all ‘someone’ – beloved of God, in whose image we are made, and there is, in that, a reassurance. It is no accident – I think – that it was Christians from the West who had the vision and courage to create a great nation out of the wilderness they encountered. The ‘Shining city of a hill’ was their inspiration – and remains one for many Americans – however much secularists try to replace that dream with their own fairytales.

Good music and poetry (and good lyrics are poetry) have the power to transform things and to take us places in our imagination – and here, in a few short verses, we can see something profound about the immigrant – and the American experience – encapsulated. Either that, or I just have a vivid imagination – either way – something to share with all you wonderful people here at this season.

Dies Irae

Do you guys listen to (or play) classical music? That’s my normal fare, to listen to, and yes, I used to play some of it, although as a brass player, marches were more my style. One composer that I have always liked rather a lot is Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff. He came along pretty late in the Romantic period, a Russian who ended up escaping to the United States, and there are clues in the music. He was also an Orthodox Christian which perhaps matters as well.

Anthony J. DeBlasi over at American Thinker has noticed as well. I’m frankly weak on Medieval Latin Hymns, but I am familiar with Requiem Masses, therefore the phrase Dies Irae is not wholly unfamiliar. I did not recognize that Rachmaninoff worked the plainsong of this into almost all of his works. A message? Perhaps.

What I hadn’t heard till this morning was his Symphony Number 1. It was completed in 1895 and had a disastrous opening, was lost in World War II and put back together from the various parts. Talk about eye-opening. It’s arguable that the semi-hidden plainsong in his other works is a message, here it is 60 point blackface type. From the inscription on, for it originally carried an inscription from Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Romans: “Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord.”

Here is the Symphony:

Mr. DeBlasi speculates (and that’s all any of us can do) that Rachmaninoff saw the future of Russia and the communist uprisings of 1905 and 1917, and this was his answer. I’m inclined to think he is right. This is so different and so foreboding, not to mention boiling over with anger compared to anything else he wrote that I can’t see how it could be anything else.

As I said, its opening was a disaster, causing the composer mental distress for the rest of his life. Perhaps a prophet unheeded in his home, and perhaps we, in his second home are doing a pretty good job of not heeding him as well.

Long ago (in 2012) Jessica found a translation of the hymn (I think) from the 13th Century. It certainly carries a warning.

THE day of wrath, that dreadful day, Shall all the world in ashes lay, As David and the Sibyl say.

What tremor shall the soul affright, When comes that Judge whose searching light Brings thought and word and deed to light.

The last loud trumpet’s spreading tone Shall through the place of tombs be blown, To summon all before the throne.

Death is struck, and nature quaking, All creation is awaking To its Judge an answer making.

The written book shall be outspread, And all that it contains be read, To try the living and the dead.

Then shall the Judge His throne attain, And every secret sin arraign, Till nothing unavenged remain.

What shall my guilty conscience plead, And who for me will intercede, When even saints forgiveness need?

King of tremendous majesty! Who savest whom Thou savest, free, Thou fount of pity, save Thou me.

Remember, Jesus Lord, I pray, For me Thou walked’st on life’s way; Confound me not on this last day.

‘Twas me Thy weary footsteps sought, My ransom on the Cross was bought, Let not such labour come to naught.

Just Judge of recompense, I pray, Cancel my debt, too great to pay, Before the last accounting day.

My groans a culprit’s heart declare, My cheeks shame’s burning livery wear, Spare me, O God, Thy suppliant spare!

As Thou didst Mary’s sin efface, And take the thief to Thine embrace, So dost Thou give me hope of grace.

Though all unworthy be my cry, Give grace, O gracious Lord, or I Shall burn in fires that never die.

Grant me among Thy sheep to stand; From outcast goats my soul diband, And raise me to Thine own right hand.

When cursed foes are put to shame, And given o’er to biting flame, Ah! with Thy blessed call my name.

Prostrate, my contrite heart I rend; My God, my Father, and my Friend, Do not forsake me in the end.

O day of weeping, day of woe, When rising from his pyre below, The sinner to his Judge shall cry,

‘Spare me, Thou mighty God on high!’ Ah, gentle Jesu, Saviour blest, Grant to them all eternal rest!. Amen.

And this is the very important part of Christianity that our churches rarely speak of. There will be a Judgement Day, and when that trumpet sounds, it will be too late to repent what we have done in this life. We are all sinners, but if we are wise, we repent often and sincerely. Many in our churches have not been taught this, but God has made it clear as glass, there will be no excuses, I suspect.

Remembrance Sunday

Crossposted from  All along the Watchtower.

Poppy_wreath_stockwell

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

 

A WOMAN’S TRIBUTE

The Message of the Double Line of Khaki; From the London Times, October 18, 1921

In Westminster Abbey, yesterday, General Pershing laid the American Medal of Honour upon the grave of the Unknown Soldier of Britain. The bright sunlight streamed through the high stained-glass windows in long shafts of light that fell warm upon the grey stone of the Gothic arches, upon the quiet people in the Nave, and around the flower-strewn tomb, and that lay in a cloth of scarlet on the flag above the body of the Unknown Dead.

A thousand years of great history stood silent within those old walls. Close by are the tombs of Norman, Plantagenet, Tudor, and Stuart Kings and Queens, of the priests, and soldiers and the sailors, of the poets and statesmen that have made England great.

As the organ filled the sunlit spaces of the ancient church with its deep volume of sound, there marched up the aisle, with bared heads, a detachment of British soldiers from the Guard’s regiments. As they formed a line facing the centre, an equal number of American soldiers, bare-headed, marched up the other side, and turning, stood facing the British soldiers across the narrow aisle.

Both lines of khaki, both lines of straight and young and clear-eyed boys, both lines of men of Anglo-Saxon blood, of the same standards and of the same ideals they stood there in the sunlight in that shrine of a thousand years of memory, looking straight into each other’s eyes.

Between them, up the aisle, marched the choir in their scarlet vestments with their bright cross on high, the generals, the admirals, and the Ministers of the Empire, and the Ambassador and the Commanding General of the Great Republic but in all that they represented, and in all that was said in the ceremonies that followed, there was no such potent symbol as those two lines of khaki- clad boys, with the sun shining on their bared heads, their brave young faces, and their strong young bodies, looking each other straight in the face.Between them lay, not the narrow aisle, but a thousand leagues of sea, the building of a new world, the birth of a new destiny for man. But as they stood there where they could have touched hands in the old Abbey which was a shrine for their common ancestors, they were so amazingly alike in bearing and appearance that they ceased to be a detachment of soldiers from two different countries, and they became a symbol of the illimitable potentiality of a common heritage that heritage of which the ancient Abbey was a shrine the heritage of the ideals of freedom, of order, of self-discipline, of self-respect.

If any words spoken in the Abbey could have conveyed a hundredth part of what that double line of clear- eyed boys said in utter silence the world would have been a happier place to-day. The old strength and the new force of a common heritage stood in khaki in the aisle of Westminster Abbey bare-headed, to honour the symbol of supreme sacrifice to those ideals in the Cross of Christ and in the body of an Unknown Soldier.

The service included this.

Kind of the cousins, who have always been so gracious. I wonder if they also sang this, which was new that year.

It has been a very long century since that last quiet August weekend of the Edwardian Age. It has been filled far too often with the roar of the guns, and the rattle of musketry followed by the sounding of the Last Post. But the mission has been maintained, it will never be won, although we can and should pray that it will be less horrific going forward. But all around the world, freedom-loving people have learned of the steadfast valor even unto death of English-speaking soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen. We are proud of our part, yes. But we are equally proud to be your allies and friends.

Has it been worth it? The citizen of Ypres, Belgium seem to think so. Every night at 8:00pm since 2 July 1928, except during the German occupation in World War II, they have executed this ceremony, and when the Polish forces liberated them in 1944, they resumed, while heavy fighting was still going on in the city. While under occupation in World War II the ceremony took place at Brookwood Military Cemetery, in Surrey, England.

EVERY NIGHT

For The Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

 

Giants Were in the Earth

I think a quick detour into the culture war is needed. Not the one on the streets with Scoldilocks and Extinction Rebellion, both are mere symbols of a discredited left, hopefully soon to die. But real culture.

The Unit yesterday called my attention to an article by Victor Davis Hanson in Townhall. Even for him, it’s exceptionally good. It’s titled: Members of Previous Generations Now Seem Like Giants.

Many of the stories about the gods and heroes of Greek mythology were compiled during Greek Dark Ages. Impoverished tribes passed down oral traditions that originated after the fall of the lost palatial civilizations of the Mycenaean Greeks.

Dark Age Greeks tried to make sense of the massive ruins of their forgotten forbearers’ monumental palaces that were still standing around. As illiterates, they were curious about occasional clay tablets they plowed up in their fields with incomprehensible ancient Linear B inscriptions.

We of the 21st century are beginning to look back at our own lost epic times and wonder about these now-nameless giants who left behind monuments that we cannot replicate, but instead merely use or even mock.

Does anyone believe that contemporary Americans could build another transcontinental railroad in six years?

Think about that, they built a railroad in six years, from Omaha to San Francisco, using shovels, horses, gunpowder, and their backs. The most powerful machine they had was a steam locomotive that probably had less power than the last semi-truck you saw.

Then think about California this week, over a million people do not have electricity because PG&E is not allowed to trim trees but is required to pay for fires caused by not trimming trees and clearing underbrush.

In my youth, I knew men, and my own father was one of them, that built entire electrical distribution systems, in the midst of the depression, training farm boys to do the work, and working with mostly hand tools. Their work is one of the hidden reasons we won the Second World War, both because of the increased food available, and the reduced workforce necessary on the farms. One of his contemporaries built the entire Investor-owned gas and electric utility that serves Northern Indiana in that same time frame.

There were indeed giants in the earth.

Could we do any of these things now? Frankly, I doubt it. Yesterday someone commented that we are perhaps approaching the fourth turning. One hopes so. If you don’t know, the short form of that is this:

“Hard times create strong men.

Strong men create good times.

Good times create weak men.

And, weak men create hard times.”

Well, we, or at least you young folks, will see.

In the 1940s, young people read William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pearl Buck and John Steinbeck. Are our current novelists turning out anything comparable? Could today’s high-school graduate even finish “The Good Earth” or “The Grapes of Wrath”?

True, social media is impressive. The internet gives us instant access to global knowledge. We are a more tolerant society, at least in theory. But Facebook is not the Hoover Dam, and Twitter is not the Panama Canal.

Our ancestors were builders and pioneers and mostly fearless. We are regulators, auditors, bureaucrats, adjudicators, censors, critics, plaintiffs, defendants, social media junkies and thin-skinned scolds. A distant generation created; we mostly delay, idle and gripe.

“Who were these people who left these strange monuments that we use but can neither emulate nor understand?”

In comparison to us, they now seem like gods.

These men:

THE Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary’s Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.

It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.

They say to mountains, ” Be ye removèd” They say to the lesser floods ” Be dry.”
Under their rods are the rocks reprovèd – they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill tops shake to the summit – then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.

They finger death at their gloves’ end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.

To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden – under the earthline their altars are
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city’s drouth.

They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not teach that His Pity allows them to leave their job when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren’s days may be long in the land.

Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat;
Lo, it is black already with blood some Son of Martha spilled for that !
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.

And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessèd – they know the angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessèd, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the Feet – they hear the Word – they see how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and – the Lord He lays it on Martha’s Sons !

Rudyard Kipling

That pretty much says it all, I think. But you should read the whole article.

 

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