Sunday, May 21, 2006

Memorial Day

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"In war there are no unwounded soldiers." _Narosky

Listen to Missa in Tempore Bellli (Mass in the Time of War), by Franz Josef "Papa" Haydn


Henry Purcell composed Dido and Aeneas in 1681. As you know, opera composers have librettists who write the words, except for Richard Wagner who did both. The story is decided upon. Then the librettist hands the composer the words. As we discuss below, in regards to Turandot, the words are sometimes scant, but by the time the opera composer is through with them ...

Here are the words given to Purcell for Dido’s Lament.

The story first: Aeneas was a hero on a voyage. He met Dido, the Queen, when he landed on her island and they had a torrid love affair. Now Dido has found out that Aeneas is going to leave, as all mythical heroes do, and she is talking to her maid, Belinda. She says:

Thy hand, Belinda, darkness shades me.
On thy bosom let me rest.
More I would, but death invades me.
Death is now a welcome guest.
When I am laid in earth, may my wrongs create
No trouble in thy breast.
Remember me, but ah!
Forget my fate.

These are the words, and yet the lament, a primitive aria, lasts a long time. Dido sings them over and over.

How so?

The role of the music.


(Like each of us who must say goodbye to our Best Beloved, knowing we shall never see them again,)

Has little to say ...

... But much to feel.

That is one reason why we have music.
AND NOW, FOR THE VETERANS OF OUR WARS, especially Ray Garrett, Ray Garrett, Jr., John Trimble Hale, John Trimble Hale, Jr., Samuel Chester Dunn, I, and Samuel Chester Dunn, II, all deceased; and our Honoree, John James Alifano, Jr. ... very much alive & well ..

... My Loved Ones Who Have Served.

How about yours?

"SILENCE," by Edgar Lee Masters

I have known the silence of the stars and of the sea,
And the silence of the city when it pauses,
And the silence of a man and a maid,
And the silence for which music alone finds the word,
And the silence of the woods before the winds of spring begin,
And the silence of the sick
When their eyes roam around the room.

And I ask: For the depths, Of what use is language?
A beast of the field moans a few times
When death takes its young.
And we are voiceless in the presence of realities – We cannot speak.

A curious boy asks an old soldier
Sitting in front of the grocery store,
“How did you lose your leg?”
And the old solder is struck with silence,
Or his mind flies away
Because he cannot concentrate it on ‘Nam.

It comes back jocosely
And he says “A bear bit it off,”
and the boy wonders, while the old soldier
Dumbly, feebly, lives over
The flashes of guns, the coursing of blood from the young,
The shrieks of the slain,
And himself lying on the ground,
And the hospital surgeons,
the knives And the long days in bed.

But if he could describe it all
He would be a composer
…But if he were a composer there would be deeper
Which he could not describe.

There is silence.
There is the silence of a great hatred,
And the silence of a great love,
And the silence of a deep peace of mind,
And the silence of an embittered friendship.
There is the silence of a spiritual crisis,
Through which your soul, exquisitely tortured,
Comes with vision which cannot be uttered
Into a realm of higher life.
And the silence of the gods who understand each
Other without speech.

There is the silence of defeat,
There is the silence of those unjustly punished;
And the silence of the dying whose hand
Suddenly grips yours.

There is the silence between father and son,
When the father cannot explain his life
Even though he be misunderstood for it.

There is the silence that comes between husband and wife.
There is the silence of those who have failed;
And the vast silence that coversBroken nations and vanquished leaders.
There is the silence of Lincoln,
Thinking of the poverty of his youth.
And the silence of Napoleon
After Waterloo.

And the silence of Jeanne d’Arc
Saying amid the flames, “Blessed Jesus”
–Revealing in two words all sorrow, all hope.

And there is the silence of age,
Too full of wisdom for the tongue to utter it
In words intelligible to those who have not lived
The great range of life

And there is the silence of the dead.
If we who are in life cannot speak
Of profound experiences,
Why do you marvel that the dead
Do not tell you of death?

Their silence shall be interpreted
As we approach them.



And that is why there is music. Military marches to inspire soldiers, and help them keep time and do their marches and drills right. Masses, for prayer, especially "in times of wars."The military is a microcosm. The Air Force, for instance, has an orchester, a string quarter, a symphony, someone who can play Taps, a Celtic quarter for entertaining, a group that visits nursing homes, a rock band.

And out at Ft. Sam, someone plays the piano on Sundays for the buffet, and soldiers walks aounr with Walkmen.

We need our music for where there can only be silence.

Ulysses S. Grant,: "I never advocated war except as a means to peace."

His worthy adversary, Robert E. Lee: "It is well that war is so terrible , or we should get too fond of it."

General Dwight David Eisenhauer: "I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity."

PLATO: "The war is only over for the dead."

FENELON: "All wars are civil wars, because all men are brothers."

CHURCHILL: "When you're going through hell, keep going.

AND FOR THE MOTHERS: "Oh, let's say 75 would be a good lifespan ... maybe 80 ... no one would ever want to outlive their child..." ~Garrison Keillor
Thank a service person who served. One-on-one. Doesn't matter if you weren't there.

I had the privilege of touring Ft. Sam Houston, here in San Antonio, 2 years ago with a friend who has returned, 40 years later, to the place where he had training before being shipped to Vietnam, leaving behind a wife and baby.

It was a weekend, and so we were often the only ones in a museum or room. The service person on duty would strike up a conversation and then, when they heard, that John had served in Vietnam, they would thank him. With all the military spir and polish, but one human being to another.


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