“A Life In A Thousand Words” By Jim Surkamp (1082 words)

“A Life In A Thousand Words” By Jim Surkamp (1082 words)

A Life in a Thousand Words (Through 1992)
Reprinted courtesy “The Colgate Scene”(Nov., 1993)

Somewhere walking on the squeaky Hamilton snow under a cold, clear, starry sky, the foundation is laid. My foundation was made in part from Kant, Kirkegaard, Zorba the Greek, the Doors, the Chambers Brothers concerts, Paul Tillich, the 1968 sit-in, Tom O’Brien reading “Howl” at graduation, the smell of stale beer on Sunday morning, and Fred Busch’s Core class.

I dug deeper into the Philosophy and Religion readings for answers because I was temporarily parent-less with my mother dying of cancer and my Army colonel, West Point-bred dad fresh back from a one-year tour in Vietnam My draft lottery number was 22.

The relief in 1971 of work-a-day life in Spring Valley, New York with my wife, whom I met on the first exchange to Colgate from Vassar, was welcome. We both enjoyed mastery of the difficult – me as in investigative reporter at The Rockland Journal-News, she teaching high school.

Eventually I was commuting into New York, feeling more and more, as Bob Dylan said, like something I invested in. Looking out the commuter bus window in Lincoln Tunnel gridlock, Jersey side, one Friday evening in December, I didn’t see Manhattan’s bejeweled skyline. I saw the shadow of a thin, tired man.

In May, 1976, I gave my wife almost everything and with the pain of divorce began a new life from my apartment in Manhattan working now for ADT, the international fire and theft protection company, eating a trail mix of quotes like “Follow Your Heart” and “If Life Bores You, Risk It.”

The next few years were ones of wonderful expansion, colorful people, meditation, reading, starting a greeting company, called Squiggles, researching for American Heritage and Money magazines. I felt like a blind buried seed stirring to the call of a warm, unseeing sun.

On June 22, 1980 – a sunny Sunday – I started scribbling on scrap paper at curbside in Hoboken, New Jersey what I had learned so far. That evening I typed my notes and called the seven pages “All I Know, All I Am”

I felt freed.

On April Fool’s Day, 1982, after donating my company’s greeting cards to Riker’s Island, I stuck a sign out at 72nd Street and Broadway, got a ride with a lawyer and headed into the unknown. Early the next morning, at a remote toll booth in western Massachusetts, a big draggy car finally pulled over. Pushing some of the litter away, I got in.

As the dog sat on me all the way to Boston, I listened to this truck farmer from Maine, Victor Blessing, who asked me up to his truck farm to work the next month.

Landing in an empty cabin in the deep woods of Maine after eight years in Manhattan was like stepping through a looking glass. Wolves howled at night. I knew a key to making this move to the country permanent would be to begin learning income-producing skills.

I heard about a remarkable sub-culture of families throughout New England who prune trees and pick apples. The exhilaration of this new life of hard work and broad vistas is most intensely felt after the last day of picking, when you’re just happy to be alive.

At Turner, Maine in 1983, with our station wagon loaded with ladders and boxes of drops, I remember stopping by the owner’s house to say good-bye. I slipped away to say good-bye to the orchard where I had picked thirty tons of apples.

Wellwood orchards, Springfield, Vermont

I saw endlessly expanding scenery: mountains in dimming autumnal grandeur, distant glasstop mountain lakes, all suffused in softly thunderous gusts of win. The sharp white steeple in Turner was a mile away but you felt as if you could reach out and touch it like a feature in a painting.

Later, in the car, I wrote: “See blessed Land and see Immensity. Hear blessed Land and Hear Thunder in Immensity. Behold blessed Land and Immensity and Thunder with all your heart, And be Broken in the Right Place, Become a River in blessed Land, Become One with the Soul of Souls.”

I hitch-hiked in 1984 out to California, worked six weeks in a plant nursery in San Luis Obispo, discovering Emily Dickinson and Buckminster Fuller on days off at the library. Sleeping on different soils of fifteen different states under the same old starts drew me into the core of myself, into the core of life.

I found peace of mind grows anywhere and what dies is fear.

Shepherdstown, West Virginia was growing into home for this gypsy since I was picked up hitchhiking in McLean, Virginia in December, 1982 by author Peter Tompkins, who asked me to house-sit in his 200-year old farm here.

After the first winter in an unheated farmhouse surrounded by a thirty-inch snowfall and a sheepdog named Docile, I got involved in all sorts of community work, knowing that honesty, tact and generosity are the keys to acceptance in a small town.

My mother’s death in 1969 took meaning in October, 1984 when I joined Hospice in Martinsburg, West Virginia. and gave nearly one thousand hours a year for five years.

In 1990 I started the Grief Support Network, Inc. which helps people with death losses, including a special service for murder survivors. This tax-exempt group refuses donations from those we help. It’s our own simple gift to the community. In seven months 110 people came 330 times to our support groups. I stay in touch with about 200 people, regularly with about 100.

Time has taught me how to listen to grief and rage, giving insight rather than turmoil of my own. I tell people to use their good memories to deal with the bad memories to follow their heart, to cope until insight comes, to hope till hope creates.

I can’t really say why I’ve been happy living on less than $4,000 a year for a decade. No car. No debts. Work for rent at a farm. Income from selling my historical videotapes and audiotapes which I produce with a cable television company, apple picking, and contract work from archaeologist to document his digs, seems to be enough.

My friends are true. My health is good. I go to sleep actually looking forward to tomorrow. I’ve listened to too many people tell me on their deathbed the things they wished they had done.

I believe the best preparation for death is to live like there is no tomorrow. And a life given away generously over the years cannot be snatched away from us in the end.

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“Squiggles” by Arnold David Clapman and Jim Surkamp

(Arnold David Clapman and Jim Surkamp are holders of the registered copyright to these images and the name and written, including email, permission is required from both to distribute, reproduce or show. The emails: jsurkamp@gmail.com – arniedclapman@yahoo.com )

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“This I Believe” By Jim Surkamp (488 words)

I believe in two things – Service and, The Moment.

Once when young, I was commuting into New York City. One Friday evening, looking out the commuter bus window at the Lincoln Tunnel, I didn’t see Manhattan’s bejeweled skyline. I saw the shadow of a thin, tired man.

I hitch-hiked in 1984 out to California, worked at a plant nursery in San Luis Obispo, discovering Emily Dickinson on days off. Sleeping on different soils of fifteen different states under the same old stars drew me into the core of myself, into the core of life. I found peace of mind grows anywhere – and what dies is fear.

I heard about families in New England who prune trees and pick apples. The exhilaration of this new life of hard work is most intensely felt after the last day of picking, when you’re just happy to be alive.

At Turner, Maine in 1983, with our station wagon loaded with ladders and boxes of drops, I remember stopping by the owner’s house to say good-bye. I slipped away to say good-bye to the orchard where I had picked thirty tons of apples.

I saw endlessly expanding scenery: mountains in dimming autumnal grandeur, distant glass-top mountain lakes, all suffused in softly thunderous gusts of wind. The sharp white steeple in Turner was a mile away, but you felt as if you could reach out and touch it like a feature in a painting.
Later, in the car, I wrote: “See blessed Land and see Immensity. Hear blessed Land and Hear Thunder in Immensity. Behold blessed Land and Immensity and Thunder with all your heart, And be Broken in the Right Place, Become a River in blessed Land, Become One with the Soul of Souls.”

With the echo of my mother’s death from cancer, I became a Hospice volunteer as the best use of a precious minute. For 18 years I listened to those grieving in 800 free support groups and many thousands of phone conversations.

Time has taught me how to listen to grief and rage, giving insight rather than turmoil of my own. I tell people to use their good memories to deal with the bad memories, to follow their heart, to cope until insight comes, to hope till hope creates.

I can’t really say why I’ve been happy living on limited income, no family, and serving my community.

My friends are true. My health is good. I go to sleep actually looking forward to tomorrow. I’ve listened to too many people tell me on their deathbed the things they wished they had done.

I believe the best preparation for death is to live like there is no tomorrow. And a life given away generously over the years cannot be snatched away from us in the end.

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“I Never Knew A Building Could Die” By Jim Surkamp (9/11) (391 words)

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Video: 9-11 World Trade: Exhibit #P200336, “They Are Us” By Jim Surkamp (5:03)
By admin on February 4, 2012 in Jim Surkamp’s Writings

To view 9-11 World Trade: Exhibit #P200336, “They Are Us” By Jim Surkamp,
Click Here. Music is courtesy of Stephen Schneider from the CD “Momentum.”

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Video: Civil War Sounds & Memories By Jim Surkamp (9:15)
By admin on February 4, 2012 in Jim Surkamp’s Writings

To listen to and view “Civil War Sounds & Memories” by Jim Surkamp,
Click Here.

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Relaxing Grief into Wisdom – 1 By Jim Surkamp (See/Hear)

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Relaxing Grief into Wisdom – 2 By Jim Surkamp (See/Hear)

Act from love, not so much from fear . . .

To see the beautiful video of Part 2 of Relaxing Grief into Wisdom – Click Here.

(By Jim Surkamp, Synthecizer by Seth Austen, Performed by Ardyth Gilbertson)

We learn to act from love not so much from fear. This is the key to grieving well. “Am I doing this out of love or out of fear?”

Filling the hole with forces that keep love alive becalms the hole, until it naturally becomes a small scar of a sad place within the soul. The hole heals and it is put into perspective by being filled like a rucksack with seashell like memories, of intimations of immortality, many little charmed moments, giving tears that remember a moment, instances of nature’s beauty, little puppies or kittens, children, music, courage and an awareness that suffering, as Dostoyevsky wrote, is the root of all consciousness.

I keep the vision in my heart that life is what happens when I am planning something else. I know that making my hopes for the future realistic is healing to me.

Life is moments, seconds and inches that change the course of my hopes and dreams. This is life. I am learning to dance with life in time to its beat, not my own. A death does not accept my terms. I am humbled by accepting the frailty death lays before my petty arrogance and vanity.

If more than one death occurs, I know that there is more than one grief. But one death also has more than one grief, each understood in its turn.

I grieve the lack of hugs, the lack of being understood deeply, of having lost a beloved witness to my life and history, a chronicler and appreciator of my own personal mythology.

I grieve being left alone with double the challenges. I grieve having to start over with a clean sheet of paper just when I feel too old to change.

I grieve that I am not blessed and spared after all. I am not invulnerable and have not earned by dint of great virtues of hard work, reason, and good manners a life free of any serious loss.

I grieve at the truth of knowing that shit happens, even to me. Kings die of cancer. Kings with continents become incontinent.

I stub my toe on reminders, made up of lonely moments that would have been shared – dinner, bedtime, family gatherings, the holidays, and trips to the grocery store when I realize I don’t need to look for that can or package of food our dead loved one savored so much.

Each reminder triggers an involuntary stream of consciousness review of the past in light of this profound new fact of the death. I see new sides to my missed loved one that took this death to discover. I am overwhelmed with the thought that I took our time together for granted or at least didn’t make the absolute most of every moment.

I grieve with a renewed appreciation of what more could have been. I dream of laughter at the beach from my new place alone on the desert.

All of this comes to be a belief that I must live and cherish every single moment – the moment as it is happening – with a real reverence for life, especially for each new day, with just enough good health to terrorize the neighborhood, delighting that the sun is shining on the back of my neck making it feel warm and good.

I know in the moment as-it-happens that a bottle of cold gatorade,iced tea, or water after a a hard workout in the hot sun has divine qualities. That the face of a little baby speaks volumes about being alive.

I learn this as I realize how much I took for granted the time I had with my now gone loved one. I cannot give them this belated love and joy but I must give this love for my own sake to someone or something.

If I can’t experience a kind of eternity being with the one I love I can experience my love by identifying with all of humanity.

I must give this love to myself and to those who still live, with hearty support in spirit from my new angel-guide. Many believe this. You can if you want.

Grief teaches me courage in spite of myself, and gives me a compassion for anyone who is suffering whether I want to admit it or not.

I shed my cool pettiness and cold aloofness to make way for this renewed living. I warm hunched shoulders with the rest of humanity not by myself in my once privileged, lucky little corner of the world.

By keeping the love alive I can remain open to newness and keep in check the fear that tells me to close up and dishonor the one who died by dying with them.

Grief is like paddling endlessly in the middle of a storm-tossed Atlantic Ocean, amid black thundering clouds, with waves of grief crashing over the sides of my canoe. I find that just by maintaining my ritual of paddling, I live to see improvement. The black clouds turn pale. Thunder subsides. A seagull one day is heard. And, in the distance, I see the tops of palm trees. After weeks and months, sometimes years, of holding faithfully on to my little paddle and canoe, I can at last hold onto the sandy beach of an island. To grieve and feel, I first need safety.

Because grief has diminished my expectations down to nothing and I still live, I take heart. I realize I have survived much of the worst.

The storms become fewer and further between, milder. I never forget who died, but the memories get sweeter. I have survived. I have no fear. I am a fresh garden planted with peace of mind.

Do not try to seek happiness, do not strive for external markers of inner peace of mind. As I come to know and love myself and humanity, peace of mind comes and finds me. It is a seed that cannot be forced, only cared for, just as I take care of all my emotions.

While I paddled furiously and aimlessly, the hands of great unseen tides carried me gently and surely to safety. The hands of a higher power.

The person in grief can choose to be either Ahab or Ishmael from the book, Moby Dick. Ahab lost his leg to the whale, the master of the imponderable deep.

Ahab became an emotional hostage to that event, tempted into becoming a slave to his rage. Inappropriate ego, often the source of our self-destruction, kept him from accepting the lessons of loss on terms that were not his own.

Ahab pursued the whale, bringing on his mad quest not only his skills and poisoned plan, but a boatload of innocent sailors, in callous disregard for all. “My grief is the greatest in all humanity!” was Ahab’s proud oath.

Ahab’s prescription for grief resulted in his being swallowed up by it.

Ishmael, on the other hand, was humble enough to accept his place in the scheme of life, birth, death, and humanity. He is found afloat and rescued after all others have perished at Ahab’s mad hand. Ishmael is clinging for life to a wooden coffin made personally for him by a sailor. He embraces his mortality as whole-heartedly as he embraced his birth, realizing that life and death are two sides to the same thing. Free of anguish and no longer avoiding that truth, his heart and mind become one, a thing clear and unafraid of what will come tomorrow. Ishmael floats humbly into a new life, his grief a small sad scar, into an eternity of his own.

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3

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We each choose to be Ahab or Ishmael. . .

To see the beautiful video of part 4 of Relaxing Grief into Wisdom – Click Here.

We each choose to be either Ahab or Ishmael from the book, Moby Dick. Ahab lost his leg to the whale, the master of the imponderable deep.

Ahab became an emotional hostage to that event, tempted into becoming a slave to his rage. Inappropriate ego, often the source of our self-destruction, kept him from accepting the lessons of loss on terms that were not his own.

Ahab pursued the whale, bringing on his mad quest not only his skills and poisoned plan, but a boatload of innocent sailors, in callous disregard for all. “My grief is the greatest in all humanity!” was Ahab’s proud oath.

Ahab’s prescription for grief resulted in his being swallowed up by it.

Ishmael, on the other hand, was humble enough to accept his place in the scheme of life, birth, death, and humanity. He is found afloat and rescued after all others have perished at Ahab’s mad hand. Ishmael is clinging for life to a wooden coffin made personally for him by a sailor. He embraces his mortality as wholeheartedly as he embraced his birth, realizing that life and death are two sides to the same thing. Free of anguish and no longer avoiding that truth, his heart and mind become one, a thing clear and unafraid of what will come tomorrow. Ishmael floats humbly into a new life, his grief a small sad scar, into an eternity of his own.

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The Journey to Fearlessness
copyright, 2002, James Surkamp

(In this article I focus, for greater clarity, on just deaths by illness of an older person with blameless medical and personal support. Murders, drunk-driver deaths do have many, many other real issues beyond the death itself).

A death makes us face the frightening Unknown, which surrounds us in life and awaits us in Death.

Repeatedly face your deepest fears and they lose their sting. The most enslaving fears are of the Unknown, a painful death alone, being forgotten, and the horror that life includes. How do we accept life’s horrors with equanimity and grace?

The Dalai Lama, when asked why he could smile so much in a world full of famine and pain, smiled: “What do you suggest?”

The experienced and wise would also reply: “I have felt every fear I once feared. I am free.” They have conquered fear when they say: “Don’t sweat the small stuff and almost everything is the small stuff.” “All that matters in the end is that you have been well-loved and loved well;” and “You have to learn to take the good with the bad.” The Serenity Prayer is the very badge of earned fearlessness.

Ted Hughes, the now deceased poet laureate of England, mirrored my own struggle with the Angel of Darkness. I was young, with my mother dying, my father just back from Vietnam. I inched blindly toward knowledge:

“Water wanted to live. It went to the trees, they burned.
It came weeping back. They rotted. It came weeping back. Water wanted to live. It went
to
flowers. They crumpled. It came weeping back. It wanted to live. It
went to
the womb; it met blood. It came weeping back. It went to the womb.
It met
knife. It came weeping back. It went to the womb. It met maggot and
rotteness. It came weeping back. It wanted to die. It went through
the stone
door. It came weeping back. It went searching through all space for
nothingess. It came weeping back. It wanted to die. Till it had no
weeping
left. It lay at the bottom of all things. Utterly worn out, utterly
clear.”

Like Mister Kurtz in Joseph Conrad’s “The Heart of Darkness,” one goes
to the
heart of darkness, faces “the horror” and goes beyond it to personal
glory and
redemption – fear-free.

And nothing launches us on this journey for truth more surely than the
searing
blow of a loved one’s death. “Kindergarten Values” implode.

Editor and Dr. Charles Figley’s masterful two-volume “In the Wake of
Trauma,”
explores “the illusion of invulnerability” – the notion ingrained from
kindergarten and before that, if we are on time, cheerful, honest and
hard-working, then we are entitled to be happy.

Renown Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hahn scoffs. He says if you seek
happiness
on the outside, saying “IF I do this-or-that, THEN I will be happy” –
you will
not find happiness. “You must get in touch with the ultimate dimension
of your
being instead,” he says.

The “if/then” crowd are the Inexperienced; a death loss changes that.

Even C.S. Lewis appears to have sought to defang his fear of death by
trying
to render it a mere topic for discourse. When his beloved wife died,
he wrote
in “A Grief Observed” that he didn’t know grief is so much like fear.
Writing
about life and death to master and control them didn’t lessen his pain
when
all-conquering death exploded in his own home.

Ever illusion-less George Orwell, by contrast, wrote for the wise and
experienced: “Being human is being prepared to in the end be defeated
and
broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one’s
love upon
other human individuals.”

A conceited outlook based on entitlement deems misfortune as
punishment aimed
at the unworthy. The Inexperienced seem to need to assign blame to
prove the
world is just, rational, and controllable.
An Inexperienced widow or widower concludes their husband or wife died
because
someone didn’t do their job: the spouse didn’t do enough, the doctor
didn’t do
enough, or God didn’t do enough.

Obsessed and alarmed, they ask: “Why me?” Or play the never-ending
“If-Only”
game. Parents, especially mothers, of those who die young, easily do
“If-Only”
because of their many years of habitual fearing for their children’s
safety.
One woman in my support group blamed heself for her son’s murder in
Los
Angeles after he tried to stop a gang from stealing a truck. She said:
“I knew
something bad would happen the day I said goodbye to him at the
airport.” It
was just her general fear of the Unknown which she later reshaped into
a
lifetime supply of self-blame.

The Inexperienced can’t accept that like birth, death, in the most
important
ways, is as natural as a snowstorm and just as blind.
You have to think you are the center of the Universe to think tragedy
is
personally addressed to you.

Typically the Inexperienced soberly concludes: “If God lets this kind
of thing
happen, I don’t want that God.” Consider instead Etty Hillesum,
writing her
great work “An Interrupted Life,” as the Nazi SS approached her
apartment flat
in Amsterdam: “I have found that God is not accountable to us.”

We can drain this swamp of fear by meditating on the painful
simplicity of
death, that the only place our decisions have any dominion is the here
and
now, and that the only sanctuary we have is in our mind. But it
sometimes
needs to be fumigated.

We learn from the greatest people among us such as Mother Theresa, the
Dalai
Lama, and Thich Nhat Hahn. Each urges us to love and live, here and
now, not
sweating the small stuff.

Thich Nhat Hahn had been leading efforts to rebuild bombed villages
during the
Vietnam war. A village was leveled for the fourth time. He buried his
face in
his hands. To a concerned friend, he said “I am breathing on my
anger. I am
taking care of it.”

Mother Theresa dismisses “Why’s” and inaction: “People are
unreasonable,
illogical and self centered – Love them anyway. If you do good,
people will
accuse you of selfish ulterior motives, do good anyway. If you are
successful, you win false friends and true enemies – succeed anyway.
The good
you do today will be forgotten tomorrow – do good anyway. Honesty and
frankness make you vulnerable – be honest and frank anyway.”

The Griever of death focusses on each day as it comes, building a
greater
sense of control and dominion, fed by love and hope.

Keeping grief from panicking, running throughout the Universe for
reasons is
the first step. If we are willing to go “through the stone door,” time
takes
all remaining steps for us. And grief from death will relax into
wisdom.

“It went searching through all space for nothingness, till it had no
weeping
left. It lay at the bottom of all things. Utterly worn out, utterly
clear.”

Mastering fear is to accept the horror constructively making the
unknown
known, so it doesn’t become a wicked undertow to the sparkling and
turbulent
flow of life.

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Birth of Wonder

ADD 3 VIDEOS LINKS

EXCUSE ME? I WASN’T LOOKING AT YOU. I WAS LOOKING AT YOUR ICE CREAM CONE.

YOU MAKE ME LAUGH. I FALL THRU A CRACK IN HEAVEN.

I LOVE THE WAY YOU LISTEN. I BLOSSOM WHEN YOU LISTEN. YOU BECOME MY ROOT, WHILE I SOAR.

I NO LONGER LISTEN TO THE KING. HE’S AFRAID TO GET HIS ROOTS DIRTY. POOR KING.

HE WONT KNOW WHAT LIFE IS TILL IT’S TOO LATE, SOMEWHERE BEYOND THE JEWELS AND FOOLS.

LIFE IS A CONSTELLATION OF GOALS AND HEAVENS CHANGE, THAT WE MAY KNOW, THERE IS A HIGHER HEAVEN AND A HIGHER CONSTELLATION OF HIGHER GOALS BEHIND THESE HEAVENS, AND BEHIND THE HIGHER HEAVEN YET A HIGHER, HIGHER HEAVEN AND YET A HIGHER CONSTELLATION OF HIGHER GOALS!

INNOCENT BELIEVING IS JUST THAT – EVERYTHING. A PEBBLE FALLS FROM ON HIGH AND MAKES THE GREATEST RINGS. MY SIGNATURE NAME AND GIFT FOR YOU.

MY HEART REMEMBERS JUST WHAT I NEED.

NOW GET THIS:

I AM NOT THE WASHERWOMAN IN THE THEATER ANYMORE. THE EMPTY STAGE BEGS FOR ME. SO I SING AN ARIA! AAAAHHHHHHH. . .I THREW AWAY MY BUCKET AND MOP TOO!

LOVE ME, AND DESTROY MY GREED, SO I WILL SOAR AGAIN AND ENCIRCLE THE SUN.

LOVE IS THE FIRST AND LAST. LOVE IS BORN NOT MADE. LOVE IS ALL AROUND AND THERE FOR THE GIVING. LOVE YOU BE, LOVE YOU DO, DO-BE-DO-BE-DO-BE-DO.

IT’S SO SIMPLE NO WORDS CAN HOLD IT CAPTIVE!

WHEN I SURRENDER, I AM HEALED. FANCY THAT!

I HAVE TEARS OF MORAL PRAISE WHEN I FIND A DROP OF WATER STILL IN A DESERT OF INDIFFERENCE.

YOU AND I ARE TO TELL THE TRUTH THE YOUNG FEEL BUT CANNOT NAME.

ITS SO SIMPLE NO WORDS CAN HOLD IT CAPTIVE RIGHT.

I DONT LIKE BIG, BIG DON’T SEE THE BEGININGS. BIG DON’T SEE THE TINY SEEDS BIG DON’T SEE LOVE IN THE WIND.

WANDERING MYSTERY, WANDERING POEM, FRUIT ON TREES, FALLING RAIN FEEDS FEEDS, WANDERING MYSTERY, WANDERING POEM.

(PAUSE IN MUSIC AND VOICE) MY SILVER THREADS ARE BROKEN. I AM GUIDED BY SUGGESTION I DONT ARGUE. WORDS – WORDS, SHMERDS

HEY! YOU JUST SMUDGED MY ARMOR! THAT HURT!

I GUESS I GROWL SOMETIMES, BUT I MEAN TO HUM. HMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

LIFE IS MOMENTS. HENCE SHARP TURNS. LIfE IS MOMENTUM, ALLLLL A-BOARD!!

A CHILD IN AN ENDLESS SUMMER; THERE I’LL ALWAYS BE.

I BLEND WITH THE SLOW, QUIET HUMBLE FLOW OF HUMANITY.

MY EX-FRIEND THE KING IS STARVING ON THE MOUNTAIN. OH WELL.

BEYOND THE RAINDROPS ON THE WINDOW PANE YOU CAN SEE A GREEN FOREST ON BLUE. . . FOR YOU.

SPINNING, SPINNING, SPINNING. . . MULTIPLYING FOREVER IN JOY. . . JOY IS TRUELY THE GREATEST THOUGHT, NAKED OF EXPLANATION. JOY – OH BOY!

JAKE, THE KING’S KID, BOUGHT STUFF WITH HIS BREAD, BUILT A BARRICADE AND WAITED FOR DEATH TO COME. . .TICK, TOCK, TICK, TOCK

DULLSVILLE, MELVILLE, . .DEADSVILLE.

SPONTANEITY IS THE OPEN GATE TO GOD’S PLACE.

MY HEART IS WHERE GOD DROPS A LOG ON THE FIRE.

MY WINDY THOUGHTS ARE SHAPING A CASTLE ON A BEACH SOMEWHERE.

NATURE BUILDS AND LEVELS EMPIRES ALL THETIME, YOU KNOW.

YOUR CAGE OF THORNS MAKES ME REAL NERVOUS. I TAKE A DEEP BREATH. . . AHHHHH!

YOU ARE A SEA, AND WITH A PEN, A BRUSH, A SONG, A PRAYER, A LAUGH, OR A DANCE, YOU WILL FLOW ALL DAY AS SURE AS YOU ARE LIVING.

I AM A PERFECT, STARRY HEAVEN, WATCHING ARMADAS OF MOOD, COME AND GO. . .MY LITTLE SHOW.

GIVE ME THE CLARITY OF YOUR BEING. LISTEN TO ME, RESPOND, LIVE WITH ME INSIDE THE BOUNDS OF CONVERSATION. . .BE BORN WITH ME. . .FORESEE MY EMERGING DOUBT. COMPLIMENT ME.

SPEAK TO MY HIGHER SELF, AND I’LL BRING YOUR UNKNOWN INTO THE LIGHT BEOFRE I LEAVE.

LOVE IS VAGUE, HUH?. . .NO. I SAID LOVE. . .YEH, LIFE IS VAGUE, TOO.

LIFE IS THE DANCER DISCOVERING HER FEET, THE PAINTER DISCOVERING THERE’S FRUIT AT THE END OF THE LIMB.

I’LL BRING YOUR UNKNOWN INTO THE LIGHT, BEFORE I LEAVE. I BRING YOUR UNKNOWN INTO THE LIGHT, THAT IT MAY BE KNOWN AND YOUR FEARS DIE.

YOUR GRIEF SHALL RELAX INTO WISDOM IN MY HOUSE, FRIEND; I HAVE SET A ROOM FOR YOU WHERE YOUR GRIEF CAN RELAX INTO WISDOM.

GOOD NIGHT, SWEET PRINCE. SLEEP WELL, SWEET PRINCESS.

NIGHT COMES. I AM YOUR STARRY CANOPY FOREVER, AND FOREVER, AND FOREVER.

FEAR NOT. LOVE ALWAYS.

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Aphorisms for the Ageless by Jim Surkamp

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Sara & The Puzzlemaker by Jim Surkamp with Margaux Hellyer

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Lorena – The Civil War’s Most Beloved Song by Jim Surkamp/Shana Aisenberg) (courtesy American Public University System)

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Lovable Learning by Jim Surkamp (captioned)

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“Immortal Essence: The Life and Writings of Danske Dandridge, Poet and Nature-Lover”
copyright, 2000, James T. Surkamp (adapted from the works of Danske Dandridge) Danske Dandridge

1. “TITLE” TRT: 0:06

“Immortal Essence by Danske Dandridge”

2. “THE PRELUDE” TRT: 2:48

“What is astir where the shadows are dense?
Something that baffles the curious sense;
Something that shimmers and whispers and sighs;
Something that glimmers to far-reaching eyes;

“The Shape of a song, or the Soul of a stream,
Or a Being awake from a beautiful dream,
Is pulsing and stirring and making prelude
In the reverent heart of the reverent wood.

“Is it a word that I never have heard?
Is it a hint of a jubilant bird
That never was hinted before?

“Oh! what can it be that is new in the wood;
That thrills with its meaning, but half understood,
A rapture and more?

“A sound is created that never the breeze
Has carried till now through the city of trees;
Fresh tidings from God; a new message is sent
Through I know not what delicate instrument.

“And I would I had senses as fine as a sprite,
To hear and interpret the message a-right:
But I think, oh, I think, as I fall on my knees,
God is walking and talking again ‘mid the trees.
God is walking and talking again ‘mid the trees.

3. “CLOUDS” TRT: 6:06

“The day is closing. It has been a golden day; full of rest. Now I must go and tend my flowers.

“Sometimes when confined to the house by illness, or on stormy winter days, I have felt as restless as a caged wild animal; but out-of-doors, I am in my proper place, like the free wild animal in the jungle.

“I am so glad that we have had a heavy rain, because I was beginning to feel quite wicked about it. It began when I woke up early this morning. The sound of the patter of the big drops on the tin roof of the verandah outside my window was such an unusual one that I could scarcely believe my ears. It seemed too good to be true. Soon it became a steady down-pour that has washed away all my discontent. It rained until one o’clock, softly but sufficiently. One such rain as that a week would keep the garden fresh all summer.

“I am glad that I can dig and plant and weed, as much as I please, and shock nobody, not even the gardener, for I am the gardener, myself, and not easily shocked at that. And I am sure I enjoy my flowers all the more because I have prepared cradles for them, and assisted at their birth, and helped them at every stage from tiny seedlings to lovely, blossoming maturity.

“One sumptuous Oriental Poppy, fully eight inches across, has just unpacked her thin silk dress of flowing vermilion. It is the one note of brilliant color, the high light that the picture needed. This blossom, erect on a stalk four feet in height, has six petals, while the others have but four.

“The Poppy is a very careless packer. Her fine dress came out of its trunk in many crumples, which take her maid, the breeze, several hours to smoothe. But she does not care, beautiful, disorderly creature that she is. Oh blessed people who see their gods spring up in their gardens!!”

“If any flower were worthy of worship it would be the Madonna Lily, also called the Annunciation Lily, first brought to earth, according to the legend, by the angel who came to prepare Mary for the Saviour’s birth. This Lily is the type of passional purity, not passionless purity, which is a poor tame thing. The warm throbbing purity of the innocent young girl is a different thing , and a better thing, according to my way of thinking, than the cold chastity of the nun. This is what the Lily typifies, this passional purity, with its rich fragrance and unspotted whiteness.

“The Cinnamon Rose is always the first to bloom at Rosebrake. A pretty little Scotch Brier is the second. . .And the Hollyhocks have proved that they too, have heroic souls; only all the best clumps have been eaten by the cows who have developed an extraordinary appetite for Hollyhocks.

“I wish I could tell my flowers how much they help and comfort me and yet, who knows? Perhaps they understand? They look as if they did. Yes, yes there is certainly an understanding between us. I love to water them most when they are in distress. Do they not breathe lovely confidences into my ears every day? And do I not open my heart as freely to them? No one who has a garden of flowers to love and be loved by, need complain about being misunderstood.

“When I go to the garden with my troubles the flowers know just what to do. They don’t say a word, they don’t torment me with senseless conversation. They just look at me, and their beauty makes me forget my cares, and their smiles restore me to cheerfulness, and their fragrance refreshes me, and strengthens me to bear what I must. And so I go away serene again and thanking God for my garden. Surely ugliness is the only sin of which flowers are capable, and that is usually man’s fault, who will not leave Nature alone.

“If I could carry out all my fancies I would have garden parties when certain flowers were in bloom. In May, I would have a Violet fete, a fete of Roses in June; and of Lilies in July, and perhaps a fete of Yuccas on some moonlit evening. In November, I would invite all my friends to a Chrysanthemum party. The tables should be set on the lawn, and decorated with the flowers of the day.

4. “THE PRIMROSES AND THE ROSES” TRT: 3:03

“Last night was a beautiful one. The moon was in her second quarter, and the sky was mottled with fleecy cloudlets. We counted thirty-eight buds on the evening primrose, ready to unfold. All the family, some house guests and a caller were there to enjoy the pretty spectacle.

“About half-past seven the show begins, and we take chairs in the orchestra circle, to watch the performance.

“One after another, then two or three at a time, the buds neatly rolled in their long green calyxes, began to stir, to swell to burst slowly open. The calyxes fell back with a graceful movement. There was no hurry, and no delay. The whole plant was in tremulous motion, although there was no breeze. At last she stood arrayed in the full glory of her blossom-hood, and a delightful penetrating odor diffused from every delicate flower. The flowers are pale lemon yellow.

“This is only one of the many pleasures for which we have to thank out garden; pure, elevating, refined. Every night for a long time to come there will be more blossoms, for there seem to be hundreds of buds.

5. “BE” TRT: 3:19

“I can see great streams of people going up the state road in front of Rosebrake to the Agricultural Fair a half mile away. A great crowd is not an enlivening spectacle especially when it is a crowd of hard-working, stolid, farmer-folk, honest, worthy, farmers and their wives. Every one is hot and tired, and begrimed with dust. Women carry lunch baskets, and heavy babies. The young girls drag their best white skirts in the dust.

“It is a very quiet crowd. All look as if they were seeking something that they cannot find. The middle-aged women wear large, black, straw hats, and black cotton dresses hang limply around their shapeless figures. I sat a long time watching them. Some little boys and girls and some of the Negroes were the only ones who looked gay.

“The farmers all have a patient, dogged air, like their own cattle. They work so hard. They have so little. Yet they seem happy enough in their own homes.

“The crowd was overawed by the crowd. I think that was it. The expression of a city crowd is much brighter, gayer, and more reckless. Used to contact with strangers, such contact no longer depresses, but exhilarates. Men and women, like precious metals, are brightened by friction. But country people are like metals in the rough.

“After watching the crowd a long time without seeing one mature face that expressed hope or happiness, I felt overpowered with a sense of the nothingness of all things. I could no longer see the sunken, sun-burnt cheeks of the men, their mouths stained with tobacco, their coarse store clothes, the ample figures of the elderly women with their stolid, care-lined faces, or the fresh thoughtless countenances of the young men and women, except through a mist of pity and hopelessness. Pity is good, but hopelessness is useless. So I came away.

“O strong oaks, O blue mountains, O winds of heaven, O infinite mysterious sky, how holy, and how healing, and how hopeful, you are, after that!! Dear men and women! The universe belongs to you. Look up, and be helped and comforted.

6. “SILENCE” TRT: 3:35

“Come down from the aerial height,
Spirit of the summer night!
Come softly stepping from the slender Moon,
Where thou dost lie upon her gentle breast,
And bring a boon
Of silence and of solace for our rest.

“Or lift us, lift our souls to that bright place
Where she doth hide her face;
Lap us in light and cooling fleece, and steep
Our hearts in stillness; drench in drowsy dreams;
Grant us the pleasant langour that beseems
And rock our sleep.

“Quell thy barbed lightning in the sombre west;
Quiet thy thunder-dogs that bay the Moon;
Soothe the day’s fretting, like a tender nurse;
Breathe on our spirits ’till they be in tune:

“Were it not best
To hush all noises in the universe,
And bless with solemn quietude, that thus
The still, small voice of God might speak to us?”

7. “THE STREAM AND I” TRT: 2:09

“We ramble on, the stream and I,
Still singing, still companionless.
We run to find, beneath the sky,
Some arid spot, some life to bless.
The brook is dreaming of the sea;
But I, fond spirit, dream of thee.

“The brook’s bright waters flow and flow;
All lush and green his track appears;
And it is given me to know
Some choral of the chanting spheres.
Our lives are tuneful as the birds,
With rippled song and gentle words.

“And if, sometimes, we lurk apart
In secret grot or covert dale,
To bide a space and gather heart,

“Anon we’re laughing down the vale.
Through rain or tears our forces swell,
We find the sun and all is well – all is well

“Through rain or tears our forces swell
We find the sun and all is well

“The stream and I.”

8. “STEVIE” TRT: 1:42

“Although its residents abuse Shepherdstown very much, and are frequently heard to wish passionately that they lived anywhere else, yet it exercises a curious fascination over all who have once found it out come back to it again and again.

“But I call Shepherdstown gruesome because it keeps up the old custom of tolling the church bell for a funeral. The biggest thing belonging to Dawdleton, or Shepherdstown, is its graveyard, which lies on the turnpike between Rosebrake and the village. The farmer folk for many miles around lay their dead in this old grave-

yard, and deaths so common that one or other of the seven church spires announces a new one nearly every day. You pause involuntarily in whatever you may be doing to count the strokes. What with the rows of tombstones in full view from my hammock, and with all this tolling, I am in no danger of forgetting my latter end.

“This custom of Shepherdstown does not tend to promote hilarity in its inhabitants.

“Ah me! My thoughts go back to the time when there was a little boy here to fill the lonely old house with joy. One day, he was helping “Aunt Kate,” and he said to her:

“Tell me somsin else to do for you Aunt Tatie, I’m twyin’ to be a little Twistian child. I know I’d like it.”

9. “AYRE” TRT: 0:54

“Ah Stevie, Stevie! You have long been a heavenly child. Do you like it, dear, do you like it?

“I spend many lonely hours, and if it were not for the baby, and the kittens, and the garden, I don’t know what would become of me. With these blessings, and a few books, the world may be forgotten.”

10. “WINGS” TRT: 2:32

“Shall we know in the Hereafter
All the reasons that are hid?
Does the butterfly remember
What the caterpillar did?
How he waited, toiled, and suffered
To become the chrysalid.

“When we creep so slowly upward;
When each day new burden brings;
When we strive so hard so conquer
Vexing sublunary things;
When we wait and toil and suffer,
We are working for our wings.

“When we wait and toil and suffer,
We are working for our wings.

“How he waited, toiled, and suffered
To become the chrysalid.

“When we creep so slowly upward;
When each day new burden brings;
When we strive so hard so conquer
Vexing sublunary things;

When we wait and toil and suffer,
We are working for our wings.

When we wait and toil and suffer,
We are working for our wings.

11. “HOPE” TRT: 2:21

“Ah me! what battles I have fought!
I would I knew the rune that lays
The swarming shades of weary days
That take the lonely House of Thought!

“A restless rabble, unsubdued;
A wild and haggard multitude;
Distorted shapes that spring from tears,
And torments born of wedded fears.

“Sometimes, amid the changing rout,
A rainbowed figure glides about,
And from her brightness, like the day,
The whimpling shadows slink away.
The whimpling shadows slink away

“I know that lyre of seven strings;
The seven colors of her wings;
The seven blossoms of her crown; –

“Where violets twine for amethyst;
Small lilies white as silk-weed down;
There myrtle sprays her locks have kissed;
And pansies that are beryl blue;
And varied roses, rich of hue;
With iridescent loving eyes
Of buds that bloom in Paradise.

“Come often, thou eternal child!

“New-string thy lyre and sing to me.

“Thy voice ecstatic, fresh and wild,
Enthralls each dark-browed phantasy

Enthralls each dark-browed phantasy.

“Beyond the walls she bids me peer
To see a Future, dim and dear;

“Sweet faces shining through the mist
Like children waiting to be kissed;

“A lovely land that knows not pain;
Atlantis land beyond Life’s main,

“Where we who love may love again –
Ah me! Is this beyond the plan
Of God’s beneficence to man?”

12. “SYMPATHY” (Piano solo) TRT: 2:44

13. “BOOKS AS MEDIUMS” TRT: 3:46

“When I go out to the hammock in the leisurely afternoon, I debate within myself what spirit shall be my companion. Books are mediums, and by them we live in communion with the spirits of the absent or the departed.

“For the garden I want very choice company. Jeffries, Thoreau, Burroughs, and among poets, Chaucer, Spencer, Wordsworth are favored guests. My test for a book in the summer is – Will it do to read under the trees? Almost all good poetry is adapted to out-of-door reading. All that rings false or hollow, all novels of fashionable life, or ignoble ambition are as out of place in the grave and reverend company of trees as a painted and bedizened woman of the world would be.

“History cannot peacefully be read in the hammock because it is too harrowing. The grove is no fit arena for marchings and counter-marchings, massacres, and bloody victories.

“I choose my companions very carefully for this, my hour or two or peace, after the work of the day is over. I do not want any book that would jar the quiet harmony of sky and cloud, and tree-tops, or disturb the brooding calm of the hills.

“Pure, not too strenuous love stories gain a fresh charm read in this manner, and so do fairy stories and romances, for which I still have a weakness. I think I will have to complete my shelf with children’s books, such as Hans Christian Anderson, and Hawthorne’s Wonder Book, and Mrs. Ewing’s stories, at least the most cheerful of them. After all, we have to go to the children’s bookcases for cheerfulness nowadays.

“It has not yet become the fashion to write pessimistic literature for them, thank heaven! When children’s books become morbid, I will no longer have any hope for the human race.

“Lillian Whiting says that it is everyone’s duty to be happy. The young ladies scour the country in search of Amusement going ten miles to a dance, and coming home to lie in bed all the morning. I stay quietly in my hammock, and not Amusement; but better far, her sister, Enjoyment, comes to me unsolicited. She floats on the swan-white clouds; glows in the sunsets rises in the pages of books. She closes my eyes at night, wakes me up with me in the morning, and her other name is Content.”

14. “DREAMS” TRT: 2:55

“Run with me, elves, and lay me on that bed
Bud-strewn beneath my cirque of sister trees,
Where – through the young Moon hath embroidered
Faint soothing-spell in silver traceries;
Run with me, for I feel the need of dreams;
Earth palls, and naught is fair but that which seems.

“Fashion thin horns of blossom-tubes and blow;
Tinkle the lucent pebbles of the rill;
Fetch me a mating bird to twitter low;
Spin sounds of night, fine-drawn, remote and shrill;

“And let that elfin whom I hold most dear
Whisper a certain name within mine ear.

“Then, while I sleep, the very tender Moon
Ne’er dreamed such sport with her Endymion,
Nor any love-rapt mortal, late or soon,
Such snatch of rapture from the Immortals won

“As I, that, waking, have become so dull,
But in my dreams, so glad and beautiful.

“As I, that, waking, have become so dull,
But in my dreams, so glad and beautiful.

15. “BIRDS & FLOWERS” TRT: 5:32

“Being alone I am quite happy today. I am generally happy when I am out of doors, with nothing at all to worry me, and when the birds sing, and the air is sweet. It’s so beautiful here today that I can do nothing but take deep breaths of joy. The many birds that are as happy as I am do not seem to find me in their way. They are so used to my presence that they go on with their daily avocations as if I were quite in the family.

“The cat-bird comes to give me all the gossip of the garden. I love the Carolina wren. He is such a dear little dunce. He has a stock repertoire of at least a dozen songs or sayings, all equally artless, not to say idiotic, and he seems equally pleased with them all. He reminds of a man who will be singing snatches of songs all day long, although he has no ear for music and is never in tune. They have built themselves a nest inside the shutters of my sitting room window and do not care whether they are twin souls or not. Twin souls, the philosophers say, seldom find each other, but in some happier star. Is it not a pity that we are such complex beings?

“Almost all the country homes in this County and quite all the towns are spoiled to sensitive ears by the sharp, quite incessant chirp of the English sparrow, that wretched little intruder that makes me think of Poe’s lines: “They are neither man nor woman; They are neither brute nor human; They are ghouls.”

“If they are not ghouls, they are imps, not worthy of the name of birds. They only typify the worst rabble element of a great people. They think they own the earth; and they want all the best places in it; and they rob and quarrel, and fight, and are, cruel, and I don’t know anything good about them at all.

“Every spring we open a campaign against them, and give no quarter as long as a male remains on the place. We shoot them, and we broil them, and eat them on hot buttered toast. They are fat and juicy with rapine and plunder of our gardens. In eating them, I have learned to understand the pleasure that cannibals take in devouring their enemies.

“A blind man could tell the time of year in this garden from earliest April until the last fragrant flowers are killed by frost. First comes the Almond blossom, late in March or early in April, followed quickly by the blossoming Plums … Sweet odors have a great charm for me, and I am a sort of epicure of perfumes. I make pot-pourri with which I fill jars, and set them in every room. I stuff pillows with prepared rose-leaves, and also with aromatic Pine needles. I buy essential oils and experiment with them, and make my own toilet waters.

“The other day I gathered a bouquet of fragrant flowers. These were Lavender, Lemon-Thyme, Melissa Balm, the aromatic Caryopteris, Lemon-Scented Verbena, Petunias, Mignonette, a belated Rose or two Sweet Alyssum, and some Saponaria, which is a weed in the Wild Garden. To this was added a few sprays of Sweet-Brier, and leaves of Rose, Lemon, and Nutmeg Geranium. It was a rare medley of odors.

“Just now there is such a blending of rich colors in the garden that the blind man might be puzzled to distinguish between them. That spicy whiff is from the group of hybrid Sweetbriers. Under my window the Mock Oranges are almost overpoweringly sweet . . . If I stray beneath the Paulownia tree, the blare of its purple trumpets overcomes me, and I must beat a hasty retreat. This is perhaps an idiosyncrasy, as I never heard of anyone else who was made faint by its heavy unwholesome exhalations.

16. “SOCIETY FOR SUPPRESSION OF NUISANCES” TRT: 4:49

“I wish that a Society for the Suppression of Nuisances could be formed in every country neighborhood and that it would take stringent measures to supress the Unwelcome Guest. In this part of the world the doer of one’s house is supposed to be always wide open to all comers. We have to keep up the traditions of our ancestors before the war and because the southern planters were flooded with visitors all summer, we, too, in spite of changed conditions of things, must observe the sacred laws of hospitality, however inconvenient they may be. In the North they are wiser than we, and do these things better. You are invited for a certain number of days and you don’t overstay your time. You don’t go unless you are asked, and, presumably, you are not asked unless you are wanted.

“It is far otherwise with us. If a relation, no matter how distant, or a friend of a relation; or a friend of a friend; or a friend of a friend’s relation, comes within fifty miles of you, you are bound to invite him or her – it almost always her – to your house for an indefinite stay. The cook may be ill or non-existent; the children may all have the measles, you may be half-dead yourself, but no matter. Nothing matters, except that the laws of hospitality be not infringed.

“When your guest after driving you to the verge or over the verge of nervous prostration, finally wearies of you, and proposes to depart in search of new victims, you must set your teeth and urge her to stay as if your future salvation depended upon it.

“When you have guests you must not leave them to their own devices an hour. You cannot go and shut yourself into your room for a quiet morning’s work; you cannot laze in the hammock through a long afternoon; you must exert yourself to be entertaining every minute of the day and half the night, except when you are preparing delicacies in the kitchen over a steaming stove. It is always the hottest weather that the Unwelcome Guest makes her appearance.

“It is so easy for husbands to be hospitable!! When time is up, he insists upon a longer stay and that so urgently that he will not take no for an answer. He does not have to keep house, nor instruct the cook in the art of dessert-making when the kitchen thermometer marks 98 degrees. He is only conscious of an agreeable listener to the stories his wife got tired of so many years ago. And he enjoys eating the desserts.

“The Unexpected Guest is almost always the Unwelcome Guest.

“The wish to escape from the untimely visitor has often inspired me with the desire to live in a tree. Everyone should have some safe refuge from the cares and trials of housekeeping. If I could manage it, I would have a secret stair built in the heart of our giant Oaks, which should lead to an eyrie at the summit, hidden from all eyes. Into this peaceful nest I would disappear upon occasion; say just as undesirable carriage wheels were heard approaching the house. From my airy perch I would calmly survey the coming and going of the curious, myself unseen, unheard. How cool, how care-free, how bird-like! I would be, in my safe seclusion! I am afraid I should burst into song for very glee and thus betray my secret.”

17. “THE FAIRY CAMP” TRT: 1:58

“What did I see in the woods, to-day?
I saw a fairies’ gypsy-camp.
The tents were toadstools, brown and gray,
Among the bracken, soiled and damp.
I called on a cowslip ‘mid the green,

“And borrowed a bit of fairy gold,
And then I found the gypsy-queen,
And so I had my fortune told.

“Ah, yes, she told me a secret true,

“That wild-eyed gypsy, brown and red!
But I may not tell it out to you,

“For that would break the charm, she said.
And if you seek them by yourself
You will not find that strolling band;
They have pilfered the wild bees’ hoarded pelf,
And flitted away to another land.

“What did I see in the woods, to-day?

“I saw a fairies” gypsy-camp.
The tents were toadstools, brown and gray,

“Among the bracken, soiled and damp.
I called on a cowslip ‘mid the green,
And borrowed a bit of fairy gold,
And then I found the gypsy-queen,
And so I had my fortune told.

“Ah, yes, she told me a secret true,

“That wild-eyed gypsy, brown and red!

“But I may not tell it out to you,

“For that would break the charm, she said.
And if you seek them by yourself
You will not find that strolling band;
They have pilfered the wild bees’ hoarded pelf,
And flitted away to another land.

18. “MOONRISE” TRT: 5:26

“Last night, I lay alone in the darkening garden. It was very still except for the shrilling of the crickets and cicadas and the beat of hoofs and rolling of wheels on the high roads, that came up to me, softened by distance.

“The head of the house was away; the servants had gone to their cabins.

“The moths flitted about the Evening Primroses and the Four-o-clocks; the climbing Rose on the fence bloomed in many white clusters, with a faint odor of musk. The Jasmine near by made the air heavy with fragrance, and many groups of white Speciosum Lilies and white Phlox glimmered in the growing dusk.

“It grew late, and I waited for the moon to rise. She came at last, sending her white radiance in advance, blanching the thin clouds above her in the eastern sky. It seemed a fire on the mountains at the first glimpse of her. Slowly, she rose, shedding her waning light upon the garden.

“The night was so beautiful and so calm, that I felt awed. And as I lay in the stillness, I thought of all the old house had known, and of my life there, step by step. How I had played under the Oaks of the grove, and wandered about the fields with my brother, all the long careless days of childhood.

“We invented games for every part of the place, a special one for the back piazza, another for the front verandah, a most exciting one called “Deer and Lion” for the upstairs passage and communicating bedrooms, on rainy days. The rock-brakes in the fields were our kingdoms, and a field of corn a mighty unexplored forest in which we lost our way.

“And then they all came back to me, all the dear faces that I had loved, long since, and lost awhile.

“The garden was peopled with them, my friends of the long ago, they were all there, father mother, sister, and radiant child, and many others, friends, playmates, teachers, They moved about softly, with gentle steps, they filled the circle of vacant chairs by the hammock, left by the guests of the afternoon.

“I was not troubled nor afraid: The dim white figures came and went so tranquilly, they smiled at me so tenderly, and all their faces wore a look of pitying love.

“It was an exalted dreaming, but it seemed to me that each one had brought me a blessing, and that I received consolation and uplifting from each.

“I thought of the broad charity, the warm-hearted generosity, and unsullied honor of one; the beautiful helpfulness and unselfishness of another, the brother’s heroic spirit; the sister’s nobility; and the joyous innocence of the child. And I besought them to help me to grow every day worthier to be one of them. They nodded gravely and kindly, and then it was as if they joined hands and sang together, words of heavenly promise and benediction.

“They faded slowly away, up, up, where the white clouds waited for them, and the pure voices sounded fainter, and fainter and I awakened from my reveries, and went very slowly and softly into the house, and left the old garden to watch, in the moon’s company, through the tranquilly summer night.

Copyright, 2000, James T. Surkamp a combination of writing by Danske Dandridge.

WHAT IS “THE DANSKE MAGIC”?

Danske Dandridge’s writings take root slowly – on spring’s eve. A rose root is to soil as a brilliant word-stroke is to an unlit mind. Only the best, most precious enter Danske’s secret garden. A phrase is turned and we wait.

She has been, since she died, a unique puzzle piece taken from the rich landscape of her historic region. All too different to fit anywhere well.

Danske Dandridge was hailed by some as the greatest of poets; by others, a spinster of “dainty,” crumpet-poems, one washes down with tea. The blinkered latter lot cart-wheeled over her oceanic, moonlit railings, assuming them lapses – not in their own fumbling grasp – but in her lady-like manners. If she did not meet their expectations, it was because her expectations were much higher. Victorian culture-police gasped when the more primitive Danske bristled at cabin fevers, “like a caged wild animal.” Even more insidious was the damage of being mis-filed by the “Harper’s” reviewer, squandering praise on this “Dane’s excellent second language.” (She was born in Denmark while her Virginian father served as his nation’s first ambassador to that country).

For me, it began twelve years ago with an article in the local “Good News Paper” by Alexandra Lee Levin, a distant relation of Danske’s, who tipped open, for a peek, the heavy, oaken lid on this fairytale world. Then another associate, Dr. Bill Theriault, appealed to my researcher’s love for new troves of value, telling me she wrote some 200 gardening articles to add to her three history books I know and use.

My pilgrimage to the some 10,000 documents called the “Bedinger-Dandridge Collection” at Duke University’s Rare Books and Manuscripts Division tore off the veil and revealed a trembling, brave, extraordinary woman. Her diaries are present, direct, blunt, droll – all pulsing with an aching heart, wishing for a world beyond and all seamless beauties. As I whispered her diary entries into a micro casette recorder, I felt as if this glistening, shadowy world and Universe was beginning to take me into its enchantment. I was becoming a member of the Dandridge family – Totsie, Stevie, Stephen, Serena, with Tom and Charity Devonshire lifting “the heavy end.” They all mixed the mundane, ethereal and every day at the stately home called Rose Brake – coping within “moderate means.” The enchantress herself, with Tom behind the spade, waved into being a grove of oaks, a garden with over a hundred varieties of roses and over 500 species of tree and plant life until Rose Brake was a kingdom.

I’ve seldom found anyone whose faded, pencil markings can still make me laugh and cry from the remote distance of a century and a day’s drive from their homestead. Rose Brake lingers in the mind’s eye just above the still-standing, garden-less home, a magical world Danske left for us, to tend its unfading flowers, a secret garden of our own.

– Jim Surkamp, Director/Producer

THANKS

Thanks to the Shenandoah-Potomac Garden Club, the West Virginia Humanities Council, the Arts and Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County, the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts; the Boarman Arts Center and its director, Patty Perez, for sponsoring these grants; Dr. Linda McCurdy, the director of Duke’s Division of Rare Books and Manuscripts; Dr. Bill Theriault; Mr. Leon Washington; Ted Goldsborough, a descendant of Ms. Dandridge; Graphic Designer Shane Brenizer for his unforgettable poster; and Emil Loomis, who looked over Danske’s writings with a visually trained eye and master gardener’s sensibility.

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1 THE IMMORTAL ESSENCE OF DANSKE DANDRIDGE ARDYTH I am inspired tonight. Poetic numbers swelling from my soul will have their vent. Tis my destiny to write – NARRATOR: She is about five feet two inches in height, slender figure, carries herself very gracefully, has a very small head, beautiful brown soft hair, dark complexion, gray eyes; soft, low voice, very sweet and full of feeling and a quiet, low but very casual laugh; her eyes are very expressive and in constant use. 2 Prefers Thackeray, Dickens, Jean Ingelow, Tennyson, Longfellow. . . Evidently has a quick temper, but is generally of an easy disposition. . . . full of Mischief. Caroline “Danske” Bedinger was born in Copenhagen on the 19th of November, 1854. She was the youngest child of Henry Bedinger of Virginia and Caroline Lawrence of Flushing, New York, an offspring of two strongly individualistic families – the little girl destined from the cradle to charm her fellows all unconsciously. 3 She swayed those she met with a subtle way queer to some, denied to others, but inborn and ineradicable as the years go by – and I suppose after years eternity will but carry on the beginnings of individuality begun here on earth – rolled, beaten, tried and tested during our earthly years. Two years before her birth, the Honorable Henry Bedinger had been sent as the first minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of Denmark with the special object of negotiating a treaty with Denmark’s King whereby American ships should be allowed to enter the Baltic through the straits, free of duty. Late in the evening a shy man would often emerge in the King’s court seeking Henry Bedinger for a chess game – Hans Christian Anderson, the children’s story spinner. 4 In November, 1858, Henry Bedinger had indeed come home to Shepherdstown and his family to great joy. Daughters Danske and Mary watched from a window from their home at the southwest corner of Princess and German Street. In the center of the street that November night was a huge bonfire, and her father’s joyous, speechifying face shone in the hot blaze making his old friends cheer more and more. Then, his daughters noticed the adults in their house had become silent, huddled. Their father, after six years in Denmark, had come home. Without warning pneumonia had taken him. 5 Danske remembered him distinctly. She was her fathers’ pet, his “little witch,” and he gave her the name “Danske,” – meaning “little Dane” – because she was born in Denmark and because in Shakespeare’s Hamlet Act II, Scene I Polonius told Reynaldo – LORD POLONIUS You shall do marvelous wisely, good Reynaldo, Before you visit him, to make inquire of his behavior. REYNALDO: My lord, I did intend it. LORD POLONIUS: Very, well said; very well said. Look you, sir, Inquire me first what Danskers are in Paris; 6 Danske’s mother, as a widow, with her three children, had built an addition to an old house south of the village with woodwork of black walnut so common in those days, and there she took her young family just before the storm of the war. She let the storm roll over her head in Shepherdstown with friends – rather than retire in safety to family in Flushing, New York The Bedinger children also seemed to have taken to writing books as ducks to water They all complained that paper was too scarce and too “hard to write on,” but they utilized every scrap that came to them. Danske’s foil was poetry with a few romantic stories for good measure. 7 Minnie, I’m told, was fairy tales, with which she could enthrall her younger brother and sister. “Danske,” was already a prodigious writing talent. Of little Danske it can be said “the ink was in the baby: she was born to write a book,” and she was. It was not long out of the cradle before she began to wield her pen. As she presented a book of original poetry, “A Present” to The Hon. A. R. Boteler with a note in the book saying that he must excuse the writing, as the paper was hard to write on, and compared to Shakespeare and Milton were not so good either. Another note calls attention to the fact that the “thee”‘s and “thou”‘s are customarily used instead of “you” s in poetry, and apologizes for a few “you’s that had slipped in. 8 NARRATOR: The date is now 1962 ARDYTH: To my cousin Netta Your cheeks are red as the rose That in the garden doth repose, Surrounded with its lovely foes The queen of all the flowers NARRATOR – Danske wrote in her diary: Poplar Grove April 4, 1862 Danske only 8 years old. As this was done in a hurry it is not straight and written well. 9 Minnie My sister is beautiful as a summer’s day My sister she is as beautiful as a flower in May I also love my Sister dear. I love her Yes My readers hear My name is Danske Bedinger And on this page you see The name which I so much adore The name is Harry Lee Then do not scorn me when I write This little song for thee Thou art my heart’s true delight My darling Harry Lee 10 Then take O take this little note I meant it but for thee And do not scorn me when I say My darling Harry Lee NARRATOR: When, on September 19th, 1862, Poplar Grove, their home, was the center of random artillery shelling from Federal batteries on Maryland’s Ferry Hill, all of Danske’s family hurried and became safely ensconced in their cellar. But seven-year-old Danske stayed behind despite the family’s pleadings to join them in the room below. Finally she closed her reading matter, R. M. Ballantyne’s ‘Coral Island’ and remarked: 11 ARDYTH : ‘Now I can tell my descendants that I finished a book during a battle!’ NARRATOR: Gaining in wartime sophistication – the three Bedinger children watched an artillery duel from their porch called “the Gregg Fight” on July 16, 1863. ARDYTH : A brigade of Federal Cavalry had been encamped on our place for several days. An officer borrowed from Mrs. Bedinger upon request a book from our library – Sir Walter Scott’s The Lay of the Minstrel. About noon we heard artillery firing in the distance. 12 The Federals immediately prepared for battle, the men dismounting to fight as infantry. They had several guns with them – perhaps one battery – and these they placed on the crest of a low hill about one hundred yards south of the gate of the Grove on the other side (west) of the pike. We sat on the back porch, and looking through the front hall could plainly see the fight on the extreme left. The Confederates drew nearer, and pretty soon there was a lively artillery duel. We were on the porch just out of the direct line of the firing, until the Union battery was struck and silenced by a Confederate shell. 13 My mother was thinking that she would never see the book again, but just at dusk an orderly rode up to the house with the book in his hand and saying that the officer who had borrowed it was in an ambulance at the gate and wounded. NARRATOR: The date is now August 22, 1864 – Federal Gen. David Hunter ordered the burning of Bedford, the childhood home of Danske’s father, near Poplar Grove. The hewn timbers of her childhood home still smoking, 54-year-old Henrietta Bedinger Lee, her 20-year-old daughter, “Netta” and the 54-year-old, freed family servant, Peggy Washington, sought refuge at Poplar Grove. Nine-year-old Danske heard their waves of sorrow and anger: 14 and young Danske wrote of it: ARDYTH: To Hunter: O cruel serpent. King of scorpions thou. Curse on thy barb’rous act! May never the Goddess of Pity send her smile Upon thy blasted heart! Behold on yonder verdant hill a house once stood. It was the house of love, of peace and glee. How soon that home was rendered desolate By whom? Oh Hunter ’twas by thee! 15 NARRATOR With so many soldiers passing, food was scarce in the Grove and the family lived largely on cornbread and dried apples. Once, little Danske’s health was very bad. She was smuggled through Yankee sentinels along the Potomac and then in a sleigh to Baltimore and to a celebrated doctor there. On the return journey they waited ’till midnight at Douglas’ Ferry Hill for the boat that was to ferry them across. While waiting I am told little Danske feasted on the books of Captain Douglas’ fine library. The children also had a private governess a Miss Griffith who must have been a highly competent teacher and their eager minds developed rapidly. 16 NARRATOR: After the war at Miss Williams’ school, Danske graduated at the head of her class, completing six years of boarding school education. ARDYTH: Tuesday – Missed no lessons. Got two letters, one from Harry and one from Minnie. May go to Staunton to have my teeth fixed. Mrs. Meade has consented to it. It is all arranged. On Friday I will go. How glad I am. We all went to a concert tonight. I walked with Minnie Mahee. It was only 55 cents and well worth it. When we came home I had a grand fuss with horrid Irene as I of course took up with Minnie Mahee. Played croquet in evening. 17 Why can I not lift the veil that hides my future, just a little way Alas! I am inspired tonight. Poetic numbers swelling from my soul will have their vent. Tis my destiny to write. NARRATOR: From a Letter from Willow Bank, N.Y. Nov 16, 1870, Dear Young America Magazine editor: ARDYTH: I have a proposition to make to you of which I have been for some time thinking . It is more nor less than to offer myself at moderate terms as a regular contributor to your pretty little magazine. 18 I flatter myself I know just what you want – sensible, probably and amusing stories, or improving bits of knowledge, and with all due modesty I may say that I shall do my best to please you if I am employed. Wednesday – August 9, 1876 – This is the morning of the great eventful day. Last evening we were to have a Rehearsal. I am to be a bridesmaid and the groomsman chosen for me is Mr. Stephen Dandridge and they say he’s the handsomest and most fascinating gentleman of them all! NARRATOR: (A. S. Dandridge III) August 18, 1876 – Dear Miss Bedinger 19 I am afraid that I have done something to worry you and though I do not know my offense, I am so sorry. Will you not show your forgiveness by letting me take you to the Leavells on Tuesday? Respectfully, A.S.D. ARDYTH: September 1, 1876 – he begged me to take him out under the apple trees. We strolled around and at last sat down under a spreading tree on the grass and O how happy we were! Dear Steve, I believe he loves me with all the warmth of a very deep and very passionate nature and O how different he is from poor Francis Greene. 20 NARRATOR: In her diary, Danske wrote: May 3, 1877 – Married April, 1879 – Moved to the Grove with their infant first born, Serena. ARDYTH: I was a very young wife then full of zeal and ignorance, and I was so callow as to invite a house-full of ministers and friends to come and stay with me through Council. The babies were small. I had a good-natured but very inefficient nurse. Council began. All the guests came and brought their friends with them. 21 We kept open house. This cook sat in a rocking-chair in the kitchen and cried. Her baby was old enough to be in mischief every moment and its lungs were strong. The cook cried and all the babies cried, and the nurse and I cooked and the Council wore its weary length away. I gave the Bishop a dinner, I believe, but most of my recollections of that weird time are compounded of never ceasing backache, headache, and a choice assortment of other aches dispersed about my wretched person and of utterly sleepless nights. There was a sense that the foundations of everything were giving way and that I had nothing to cling to, to save me from some frightful abyss. 22 The Council took place in smiling June and in tearful April I was at last carried to a hospital. Not a minister shall enter my house, except over my dead body! I am not afraid of all the ministers of the world now, for I shall be visiting the Congressional Library, the Botanical Garden and reveling in ferneries, rockeries, books, and flowers. Happy Happy me! (sing) We ramble on, the stream and I, Still singing, still companionless. We run to find, beneath the sky, Some arid spot, some life to bless. The brook is dreaming of the sea; But I, fond spirit, dream of thee. 23. And if, sometimes, we lurk apart In secret grot or covert dale, To bide a space and gather heart, Anon we’re laughing down the vale. Though rain or tears our forces swell, We find the sun and all is well. The Stream and I. ARDYTH: When I began to be interested in gardening I planned a retreat that’s to be of animal loveliness. How easy it is to have such a garden in one’s heart!! 24. The Shenandoah Valley Rail stopped for me at steps behind Rose Brake. In Washington, I could research on botany and my ancestors and enjoy the friction of daily life of the city. Davenport agreed to give me the diary of my great-uncle, Henry Bedinger, from the Revolution. The little farm was then a natural forest of old oaks and tulip trees some of them eighty feet and a hundred feet, and girthing from fourteen to nineteen feet. We turned out the grazing cattle and to give a chance for the native Virginia creepers to turn many rock brakes into beauty. 25. Tom Devonshire, a short strong African man who fought for the North in the late war, assisted during these days of splendid reformation. Sometimes when confined to the house by illness, or on stormy winter days, I have felt as restless as a caged wild animal; but out-of-doors, I am in my proper place, like the free wild animal in the jungle. I am so glad that we have had a heavy rain, because I was beginning to feel quite wicked about it. It began when I woke up early this morning. 26. The sound of the patter of the big drops on the tin roof of the verandah outside my window was such an unusual one that I could scarcely believe my ears. It seemed too good to be true. Soon it became a steady down-pour that has washed away all my discontent. It rained until one o’clock, softly but sufficiently. One such rain as that a week would keep the garden fresh all summer. I am glad that I can dig and plant and weed, as much as I please, and shock nobody, not even the gardener, for I am the gardener, myself, and not easily shocked at that. And I am sure I enjoy my flowers all the more because I have prepared cradles for them, and assisted at 27. their birth, and helped them at every stage from tiny seedlings to lovely, blossoming maturity. One sumptuous Oriental Poppy, fully eight inches across, has just unpacked her thin silk dress of flowing vermilion. It is the one note of brilliant color, the high light that the picture needed. This blossom, erect on a stalk four feet in height, has six petals, while the others have but four. The Poppy is a very careless packer. Her fine dress came out of its trunk in many crumples, which take her maid, the breeze, several hours to smooth . But she does not care, beautiful, disorderly creature that she is. 28. Oh blessed people who see their gods spring up in their gardens!!” If any flower were worthy of worship it would be the Madonna Lily, also called the Annunciation Lily, first brought to earth, according to the legend, by the angel who came to prepare Mary for the Saviour’s birth. This Lily is the type of passional purity, not passionless purity, which is a poor tame thing. The warm throbbing purity of the innocent young girl is a different thing , and a better thing, according to my way of thinking, than the cold chastity of the nun. This is what the Lily typifies, this passional purity, with its rich fragrance and unspotted whiteness. 29. The Cinnamon Rose is always the first to bloom at Rosebrake. A pretty little Scotch Brier is the second. . . And the Hollyhocks have proved that they too, have heroic souls; only all the best clumps have been eaten by the cows who have developed an extraordinary appetite for Hollyhocks. I wish I could tell my flowers how much they help and comfort me and yet, who knows? Perhaps they understand? They look as if they did. Yes, yes there is certainly an understanding between us. I love to water them most when they are in distress. Do they not breathe lovely confidences into my ears every day? 30. And do I not open my heart as freely to them? No one who has a garden of flowers to love and be loved by, need complain about being misunderstood. When I go to the garden with my troubles the flowers know just what to do. They don’t say a word, they don’t torment me with senseless conversation. They just look at me, and their beauty makes me forget my cares, and their smiles restore me to cheerfulness, and their fragrance refreshes me, and strengthens me to bear what I must. And so I go away serene again and thanking God for my garden. Surely ugliness is the only sin of which flowers are capable, and that is usually man’s fault, who will not leave Nature alone. 31. If I could carry out all my fancies I would have garden parties when certain flowers were in bloom. In May, I would have a Violet fete, a fete of Roses in June; and of Lilies in July, and perhaps a fete of Yuccas on some moonlit evening. In November, I would invite all my friends to a Chrysanthemum party. The tables should be set on the lawn, and decorated with the flowers of the day. NARRATOR: Writing in her diary: ARDYTH: September 11, 1883 – Margarette Lippincott visited and showed me her poems and I began to write poetry again. 32. NARRATOR: Danske’s poems written between September 1883 and February 1885: January 1884 If We Could Look and Assess The Years April 1884 The Empty Heart July 1884 Carrier Doves Two Hours Under The Greenswood Tree by A Civilian August 1884 A Lament for Sidney Lanier I Will Not See Thee More 33. To My Husband When Baby Died Four Leaf Clover To My Comrade Tree October 1884 When I Have Lain In The Wood Separation Knight Errant Comfort November 1884 Chrysanthemum The Vision The Trance Spring Song Beulah 34. Affliction Prayer for a Tempted Soul Shadowland December 1884 Wings The Lover in the Woods Suppose January 1885 Lost At Sea The Dove in The Field The Doves Play On Some Children Playing My Companions February 1885 Aspiration 35. *** ARDYTH: February, 1885 – My first poem published by Godey’s To fully enjoy a summer out of doors one should not take a daily newspaper. We are put here for such a little while. Why should we hate, and vex, and trouble one another? How much better it is to raise wheat and cabbages peacefully, than to go and lay waste other people’s grain fields and cabbage patches. (BOOKS AS MEDIUMS TRT: 3:46) 36. When I go out to the hammock in the leisurely afternoon, I debate within myself what spirit shall be my companion. Books are mediums, and by them we live in communion with the spirits of the absent or the departed. For the garden I want very choice company. Jeffries, Thoreau, Burroughs, and among poets, Chaucer, Spencer, Wordsworth are favored guests. My test for a book in the summer is – Will it do to read under the trees? Almost all good poetry is adapted to out-of-door reading. All that rings false or hollow, all novels of fashionable life, or ignoble ambition are as out of place in the grave and reverend company of trees as a painted and bedizened woman of the world would be. 37. History cannot peacefully be read in the hammock because it is too harrowing. The grove is no fit arena for marchings and counter-marchings, massacres, and bloody victories. I choose my companions very carefully for this, my hour or two or peace, after the work of the day is over. I do not want any book that would jar the quiet harmony of sky and cloud, and tree-tops, or disturb the brooding calm of the hills. Pure, not too strenuous love stories gain a fresh charm read in this manner, and so do fairy stories and romances, for which I still have a weakness. 38. I think I will have to complete my shelf with children’s books, such as Hans Christian Anderson, and Hawthorne’s Wonder Book, and Mrs. Ewing’s stories, at least the most cheerful of them. After all, we have to go to the children’s bookcases for cheerfulness nowadays. It has not yet become the fashion to write pessimistic literature for them, thank heaven! When children’s books become morbid, I will no longer have any hope for the human race. Lillian Whiting says that it is everyone’s duty to be happy. The young ladies scour the country in search of Amusement going ten miles to a dance, and coming home to lie in bed 39. all the morning. I stay quietly in my hammock, and not Amusement; but better far, her sister, Enjoyment, comes to me unsolicited. She floats on the swan-white clouds; glows in the sunsets rises in the pages of books. She closes my eyes at night, wakes me up with me in the morning, and her other name is Content. (STEVIE TRT: 1:42) Although its residents abuse Shepherdstown very much, and are frequently heard to wish passionately that they lived anywhere else, yet it exercises a curious fascination over all who have once found it out come back to it again and again. 40. But I call Shepherdstown gruesome because it keeps up the old custom of tolling the church bell for a funeral. The biggest thing belonging to Dawdletown, or Shepherdstown, is its graveyard, which lies on the turnpike between Rosebrake and the village. The farmer folk for many miles around lay their dead in this old grave-yard, and deaths so common that one or other of the seven church spires announces a new one nearly every day. You pause involuntarily in whatever you may be doing to count the strokes. What with the rows of tombstones in full view from my hammock, and with all this tolling, I am in no danger of forgetting my latter end. This custom of Shepherdstown does not tend to promote hilarity in its inhabitants. 41. Ah me! My thoughts go back to the time when there was a little boy here to fill the lonely old house with joy. NARRATOR: The date is January, 1897 *** ARDYTH To Memory – I have known thee when thy mood is black; When wild Regret had clutched thee, as a prey; And I have marked thee shudder, looking back. . . Sometimes he would swing himself up to a tree-branch and gaze down with his face of loving interest on the little children with their readings. He would say: “They are like fairies.” ***42. ((DELETE) A neighbor once said of him:)) ARDYTH CONTINUED: It makes me happy just to see him about as he hunts with his dog in the fields. He looks so holy and sweet and bright. He would seem more a child of the skies than of earth as he used to lie for hours on the grass with his face upturned to heaven and radiant with the thoughts within from which came such rich fruit. And almost his last word to me was to ask me if I were warm enough and to beg me to draw the cover over my shoulders when I lay down upon my cot in his room. 43. Ah Stevie, Stevie! You have long been a heavenly child. Do you like it, dear, do you like it? I spend many lonely hours, and if it were not for the baby, and the kittens, and the garden, I don’t know what would become of me. With these blessings, and a few books, the world may be forgotten. **NARRATOR: THE NIGHT-WATCH by Danske Dandridge ARDYTH: A shrouded woman sits through the dark night Upon the old roots of an oak, alone; She hears the wind; she sees no point of light: She rocks herself, and cries, and maketh moan. 44. The night grows wilder, and the owl is out, The field-mice tremble to his shivering cry, The mad wind beats the homeless leaves about, Thin shapes of evil souls are hurtled by. “O little form that I may never fold! Beyond my empty arms my baby stands: **NARRATOR: Danske wrote: (A Winter Snuggery Many winter days are dark and stormy. It rains; or it snows; or the wind howls; and the outer prospect is comfortless. Being obliged to spend a winter in the country for the sake of the health of the children, 45. I determined to have a room in which they would be able to play without disturbing the elders, and where they could always feel at liberty to invite their little friends. It was to be, pre-eminently, the children’s room, but it proved so decidedly the pleasantest room in the house, that the grown-ups were found there as often as the little ones. . . . I will describe the furnishing of this simple room, that you may see how little is required to make such a snuggery – the old Baghdad couch-cover in its five stripes, a dingy old battered mahogany desk and a stained lop-sided centre-table. Every member of the family contributed some treasure. 46. Last of all the flower table was brought and put in the south west window and some Fern, and Palms, and a few Begonias set in the opposite window. So the play-room has become the plant-room as well, and is the most comfortable room in the house. It is time to order seeds. I write to publish my poems and, with that money I buy seeds for our collection of over a hundred varieties of roses that delight us for seven months of the year. 47. The Goodman has become a confirmed idler, I fear and in vain spent all my own energy in trying to persuade him to take his place with the workers and lift us out of poverty into which we have fallen. My own small income alone saves us from destitution. His chief delight is to discuss politics with his cronies in the little village. I often wonder that I am so good to him. He has made my life terrible – and yet because he is affectionate I am fond of him – I cling to him. ***NARRATOR: Indian Summer by Danske Dandridge ARDYTH: (TRANSITIONAL MUSIC) 48. Yes, the sweet summer lingers still; The hares loiter on the hill; The year, a spendthrift growing old, Is scattering his lavish gold For a last pleasure. The robins flock, but would not go; We share the word with footsteps slow, In sober leisure, Or sit beneath the chestnut-tree, Our hands in silent company. Not yet, dear friend, we part, not yet; Full soon the last warm sun will set; The cricket cease to stir the grass; The gold and amber fade away; END POEM 49. When one wearies of the rich yellows and reds of the autumn garden there is nothing so refreshing to the eyes as a bed of cool white blossoms with a setting and backgrounds of green. The collection of shrubs, trees and plants has been formed gradually until the little arboretum now boasts of more than five hundred varieties of shrubs and other plants – all very beautiful results that can be made with a very small outlay of not more than thirty dollars and the help of Tom and Charity Devonshire. NARRATOR: The Beginning of a Romance 50. He gazed as he would read my soul And I – the flowing skies — But through and through, in every pulse, I felt those gazing eyes. The sun had set – and yet -and yet We sat beneath the stars He stirred – his breath came fast – he said “Sweetheart let down the bars.” It was a wild and lonely hill, And in the long grass at my feet You lay: the breeze was almost still, Poising on airy wings, and sweet With clover breath of resting cows; The light fell softly through the boughs; That light was dear for dear Love’s sake: ‘T was there our hearts began to wake. 51. ***NARRATOR: A Young Attraction I do not wish to be free, nor to marry Reinhold – poor unhappy wanderer that he is. I told Reinhold not to mention when he wrote to me that he had seen me in Washington. Steve does not know that. I let him come to see me. I do this because I must have some friends and interests apart from the dull routine at home or lose my mind. I could not be without some friends. And Steve is so jealous and so overbearing and so unreasonable. He expects me to endure a life of terrible loneliness year in and year out during his life. I tried it twenty years and more I have tried it and I have no strength to go on. 52. Usually Steve insists on showing him Reinhold’s letters. He has no right to do so. Because he tricked me into an unhappy marriage. I deny absolutely that he has any right over me. I am free to do as I please. Poor Steve O if we only had money enough to live, in the city, or in some pleasant neighborhood. He was raised with servants on every hand, even once having his shirts pressed and ironed when he was a soldier in the Rockbridge Artillery. How glorious it would be – a lovely life could still be if a man, young wealthy and handsome and a count adored me! 53. MUSIC MOOD CHANGE NARRATOR William Lucas writes that Count Von Rosen is an imposter. He said the true Count confronted him in Court. Of course I cannot believe a word of all this and yet there is certainly something mysterious about his behavior. May God help me. I ought to be happy or at least content for my husband loves me dearly. 54. God forgive me for being so restless and disconnected. I must take up the burden of life again as cheerfully as I can. Alas! The days go on, dear; How dulled the daylight seems, Since you went down the road, dear. And left me to my dreams Left me to bear my weary load As I toil after, down the road “SOCIETY FOR SUPPRESSION OF NUISANCES” TRT: 4:49) 55. ARDYTH: I wish that a Society for the Suppression of Nuisances could be formed in every country neighborhood and that it would take stringent measures to suppress the Unwelcome Guest. In this part of the world the doer of one’s house is supposed to be always wide open to all comers. We have to keep up the traditions of our ancestors before the war and because the southern planters were flooded with visitors all summer, we, too, in spite of changed conditions of things, must observe the sacred laws of hospitality, however inconvenient they may be. In the North they are wiser than we, and do these things better. You are invited for a certain number of days and you don’t overstay your time. 55. You don’t go unless you are asked, and, presumably, you are not asked unless you are wanted. It is far otherwise with us. If a relation, no matter how distant, or a friend of a relation; or a friend of a friend; or a friend of a friend’s relation, comes within fifty miles of you, you are bound to invite him or her – is almost always her – to your house for an indefinite stay. The cook may be ill or non-existent; the children may all have the measles, you may be half-dead yourself, but no matter. Nothing matters, except that the laws of hospitality be not infringed. 56. When your guest after driving you to the verge or over the verge of nervous prostration, finally wearies of you, and proposes to depart in search of new victims, you must set your teeth and urge her to stay as if your future salvation depended upon it. When you have guests you must not leave them to their own devices an hour. You cannot go and shut yourself into your room for a quiet morning’s work; you cannot laze in the hammock through a long afternoon; you must exert yourself to be entertaining every minute of the day and half the night, except when you are preparing delicacies in the kitchen over a steaming stove. 57. It is always the hottest weather that the Unwelcome Guest makes her appearance. It is so easy for husbands to be hospitable!! When time is up, he insists upon a longer stay and that so urgently that he will not take no for an answer. He does not have to keep house, nor instruct the cook in the art of dessert-making when the kitchen thermometer marks 98 degrees. He is only conscious of an agreeable listener to the stories his wife got tired of so many years ago. And he enjoys eating the desserts. The Unexpected Guest is almost always the Unwelcome Guest. 58. The wish to escape from the untimely visitor has often inspired me with the desire to live in a tree. Everyone should have some safe refuge from the cares and trials of housekeeping. If I could manage it, I would have a secret stair built in the heart of our giant Oaks, which should lead to an eyrie at the summit, hidden from all eyes. Into this peaceful nest I would disappear upon occasion; say just as undesirable carriage wheels were heard approaching the house. From my airy perch I would calmly survey the coming and going of the curious, myself unseen, unheard. How cool, how care-free, how bird-like! I would be, in my safe seclusion! I am afraid I should burst into song for very glee and thus betray my secret. 59. NARRATOR: “To my Comrade Tree by Danske Dandridge ARDYTH: Are you glad, my big brother, my deep-hearted oak? Are you glad in each open palm-leaf? Do you joy to be God’s? Does it thrill you with living delight? Are you sturdy in stalwart belief? As you stand day and night, As you stand through the nights and the days, Do you praise? 60. If one wishes to be taken into the intimate confidence of a great tree, and to get the full enjoyment of its strength and beauty, she should lie upon her back on the greensward beneath it, cross her arms under her head by way of a pillow, and let the eye climb slowly up the mighty trunk from root to topmost limb. Thus I have lain beneath an ancient White Oak; thus watching the infinitely varied play of light and shade through the dense foliage; thus noted the delicate tracery of the leaves against the blue of the sky and learned by heart each wrinkle of its rugged bark. 61. This is the way to study the varying characteristics of trees, and to learn many a sylvan secret only revealed to the real lovers of nature, upon whom she has graciously bestowed eyes to see and the heart to feel her beauty and her mystery. I have spent a summer afternoon moving slowly from trunk to trunk from Oak to Maple to Sour Gum, from Gum to Walnut, and then to Ash, to Poplar, and back again to the old White Oak, most satisfying of all. Sometime the sun would smile upon me through an opening in the boughs, or a light-hearted vireo warble a lullaby; the orioles whistle plaintively; 62. the friendly squirrels pretend to scold, and scurry away from branch to branch, only to hasten back to peep again and drop a tiny acorn on my cheek. The great white clouds sailing far overhead; a distant hawk leisurely cleaving the air on his strong wings; a few drops from a flying scud – all these become stirring incidents, fraught with healing and refreshments to the heat-worn and weary brain of the house-dweller. Should the eyes close into delicious slumber the great tree stands guard over its puny visitor, filling one with a sense of security and of being cared for as by a mighty and gentle nurse. 63. Play on my soul, thou Spirit from the skies! And with me rise Far o’er the tops of upward gazing trees; That I, before so mute, Transformed, become thy lute, May learn the secret of all harmonies. Be seated in a warm love-light; Play tenderly, and, from some tranquil height, Drop down clear notes of peace to men below: O strong oaks, O blue mountains, O winds of heaven, O infinite mysterious sky, how holy, and how healing, and how hopeful, you are. Dear men and women! The universe belongs to you. Look up, and be helped and comforted. 64. NARRATOR: The year is 1900 We are having our summer drought and the flowers hang their heads sadly and give me sickly smiles, which make my heart ache. We go around with our watering pots and give them drinks and try to persuade them to live a little longer and they do their best. I have more faith in Totsie’s prayers than my own, Totsie is three years old. I took her around the withering garden the other day and she said: “I will ask the dear Lord to give them a little drink of water.” 65. So she did. And whence woke up from her afternoon nap, behold, it was softly raining; but, alas, it was such a little drink, and they want to be shower-bathed for two or three days if they are up to be restored to health You have probably noticed that Totsie, though not yet four years old, does not talk baby talk. Her pronunciation is usually remarkably accurate. Indeed we are never more surprised than we find our children brighter than ourselves. Totsie is beginning to puzzle her small head over denominational differences. 66. “I’m not a Luthering, Mamma,” she said yesterday. “I’m a Christching.” Then after a pause, she added meditatively: “I look like a Mefodis, but I’m not. I’m nuffin but a Christching.” “Mamma, if you’d give me a little whipping, sometimes, I’d be as good as you think I ain’t.” Bedtime – Totsie was safely in her crib, and very tired and sleepy that night when the subject of prayer was introduced, and I told her to ask the dear Lord to take care of her through the night. 67. “O, Mamma. He’ll do that anyhow!” and she turned over on her side. ***NARRATOR: Bedtime (breathing) O Mercury, lend me your twisted staff, And lend me your winged shoon; For I would away, like a shooting- star. To the other side of the moon ; And find me a little wee world alone, A tiny planet to call my own. Where song-birds wanton, unscathed by man. And sing as never an earth-bird can; 68. Where streamlets murmur: “Forget, forget! ” And never a tear has fallen yet. There would I fly in each vex’d mood, To rest in the bosom of solitude. ***NARRATOR: THE WOOD DEMON Within this wood there is a sprite; He blows his horn both noon and night; He blows his horn both night and day; But once he blew my soul away. 69. He has a lyre; he has a lute; He has a viol and a flute. Airily O Airily One day I loitered in the glen, Apart from sight and sound of men; Afar I heard the elfin horn – Alas! that ever I was born! I saw, as softly I drew nigh, What ne’er was seen by mortal eye; I heard, and still at times I hear, What ne’er was heard by mortal ear. But when I saw the blood-red flower I felt the demon’s eerie power, And when I heard that luring strain I knew I ne’er might rest again. 70. I leave my home, my children, all, To follow where it summons me, Airily, O airily. When from the forest I return, My pulses throb, my temples burn. “O Mother dear, your eyes are wild; You tremble,” cries my fairest child. “Your face is drawn and pinched and old; Your head is hot, your hands are cold. O Father, Father, much I fear, It is not well with Mother dear.” 71. Upon the eve of holy-day All weary on my bed I lay, (Sure never yet in woman’s breast, Beat such a heart of fierce unrest!) When, as I wept to give me ease, A summons floated down the breeze; It was the demon calling me, Airily, O airily. My good-man was away from home. I said: “Alas! mine hour is come.” I rose, I heaved a piteous sigh, I said: “Mine hour is come to die.” 72. I kissed my children, one by one, I gazed their sleeping forms upon; But when I kissed my fairest child, Her cheeks were wet, her eyes were wild; My little maid who might not sleep Because she heard her mother weep. I threw the casement open wide, Nor knew that she was by my side. The moon was very near the full, The scudding clouds were white as mull. With softest tread of naked feet, And little heart that beat and beat, Through the dark forest, piteously, My fairest daughter followed me. 73. At length I reached the charmed ring Wherein that demon sat to sing; His lark-like strain was sweet to hear, And slowly, slowly, I drew near. It was a hollow, dark and dern, With tumbled grass and tangled fern. Again I smelled the blood-red flower — Ah me! it was a fearful hour. He held me with his gleaming eye, I had no power to speak or cry. I sank upon the matted grass, And waited for my soul to pass, The while he sang my threnody, Airily, O airily. 74. I looked my last on south and north, My spirit striving to be forth; But, as I closed my glazing eye, I heard my fairest daughter cry: “O Mother, Mother, do not die!” I heard my fairest daughter say: “O Mother, Mother, rise and pray!” Without the ring of charmed trees My child she fell upon her knees. Her face was white, her feet were bare; Her hands were clasped in fervent prayer; Her locks were loose upon the breeze. 75. She prayed, her voice was weak with fear: “O Jesus, save my mother dear!” Just as the precious name she said, The demon paused, and reared his head; A discord marred his dreamy strain; He writhed as one in mortal pain; He threw his horn upon the path, And fled as one who flees from wrath. He left his lyre, he left his lute, He left his viol and his flute. The blossoms drooped as in a wound; They turned to blood-drops on the ground; And where I lay, beneath his tree, The dripping blood-drops clung to me. 76. My daughter sobbed, her voice was low: “O dearest Mother, let us go!” She stooped, she raised me by the hand; Her presence gave me strength to stand. The moon had set; the way was drear; We shook with cold; we sobbed with fear; But softly, softly, all the way, The maiden did not cease to pray; And when the dreary night was past We knelt together, safe at last. The day, the holy day was born; It was the blessed Easter morn. And now what more remains to tell? My fairest daughter prayeth well; She prayed my spirit free from spell. 77. But I was weaker than a child; My looks were strange; my words were wild; For many days my fever raged, By thoughtful tenderness assuaged, For woman-like and skillfully, My blessed maiden tended me. (NEW MUSIC) ARDYTH (Cont.) Being alone I am quite happy today. I am generally happy when I am out of doors, with nothing at all to worry me, and when the birds sing, and the air is sweet. 78. It’s so beautiful here today that I can do nothing but take deep breaths of joy. The many birds that are as happy as I am do not seem to find me in their way. They are so used to my presence that they go on with their daily avocations as if I were quite in the family. The cat-bird comes to give me all the gossip of the garden. I love the Carolina wren. He is such a dear little dunce. He has a stock repertoire of at least a dozen songs or sayings, all equally artless, not to say idiotic, and he seems equally pleased with them all. 79. He reminds of a man who will be singing snatches of songs all day long, although he has no ear for music and is never in tune. They have built themselves a nest inside the shutters of my sitting room window and do not care whether they are twin souls or not. Twin souls, the philosophers say, seldom find each other, but in some happier star. Is it not a pity that we are such complex beings? Almost all the country homes in this County and quite all the towns are spoiled to sensitive ears by the sharp, quite incessant chirp of the English sparrow, that wretched little intruder that makes me think of Poe’s lines: “They are neither man nor woman; They are neither brute nor human; They are ghouls.” 80. If they are not ghouls, they are imps, not worthy of the name of birds. They only typify the worst rabble element of a great people. They think they own the earth; and they want all the best places in it; and they rob and quarrel, and fight, and are, cruel, and I don’t know anything good about them at all. Every spring we open a campaign against them, and give no quarter as long as a male remains on the place. We shoot them, and we broil them, and eat them on hot buttered toast. They are fat and juicy with rapine and plunder of our gardens. In eating them, I have learned to understand the pleasure that cannibals take in devouring their enemies. 81. My research furthers. I ascend the train when it stops for me at the eastern end of Rosebrake, that we have renamed Poplar Grove – toiling in the vineyard archives of Washington fulfilling my dreams and harming no man. Steve likes to hitch up our old horse to the buggy and go to the village with Serena, the only of our children who remains. NARRATOR: After what she called “Ten Perfect Years” in which she gave birth to her first two children, Serena and Stevie, Danske turned, at a friend’s urging, to write in earnest. 82. Danske published two volumes of poetry in the late 19th century: “Rose Brake,” and “Joy and Other Poems.” They were widely acclaimed. Poet John Greenleaf Whittier included her poem, “The Struggle,” in his anthology of great poetry covering a 400-year period. She also wrote an estimated 200 gardening articles or letters to magazines, such as “Garden and Forest.” She created, with the help of her African-American gardeners Tom and Charity Devonshire, a fabulous garden with a hundred varieties of roses along with innumerable others types of plant life. 83. She also wrote four books: “Historic Shepherdstown,” “George Michael Bedinger: Kentucky Pioneer”, “American Prisoners of the Revolution,” and an unpublished manuscript about General St. Clair. Her progression away from poems, to garden articles; and finally the dryer, more dispassionate study of history, mirrors the timing of the deaths of two of her children, 16-year-old Stevie and 12-year-old Dorothea, or “Totise.” Their losses seem to chart her gradual withdrawal from any writing that is emotionally intense and vulnerable. 84. ARDYTH: One night last summer I sat a long time on the piazza in the moon-light, when everyone else was asleep. And I noted how much more beautiful the grove and garden looked in that dimness than in the full light of the sun. The day aspect of the place was like a fair woman – healthy and human, but at night she seemed to change places with a celestial being “from some happier star,” transfigured into ethereal love-lines and grace. The Japanese have a pastime which they call “moon-viewing.” What a delightfully fanciful people they are!” 85. Indeed, I said to myself, I have one already, but it is susceptible of much improvement. A Moon Walk should be elevated, if possible on the ridge of a hill, so as to command extensive view of dale and upland distant woods and sleeping mountains and plain and a part of distant hill. Nothing is needed to make complete the Moon Walk but some groups of large white flowers here and there amid the foliage on either hand to emphasize the whiteness of the light. 86. Yuccas are the best plants to use for this purpose. I have already a large group of these plants. I shall plant them in scattered clumps next fall among some evergreens to the west of the Moon Walk which runs nearly due north. They are to come from the old garden by which I mean the ancient vegetable gardens back of the house, where they revel in rich soil and on grassy glades send up flower stalks as tall as tall men. I am well aware that the ideal Moon-Walk should be conducted to a clear sheet of swan-haunted water, with Lilies and Arums and beds of Iris and Reeds . . . (MOONRISE TRT: 5:26) 87. Last night, I lay alone in the darkening garden. It was very still except for the shrilling of the crickets and cicadas and the beat of hoofs and rolling of wheels on the high roads, that came up to me, softened by distance. The head of the house was away; the servants had gone to their cabins. The moths flitted about the Evening Primroses and the Four-o-clocks; the climbing Rose on the fence bloomed in many white clusters, with a faint odor of musk. 88. The Jasmine near by made the air heavy with fragrance, and many groups of white Speciosum Lilies and white Phlox glimmered in the growing dusk. It grew late, and I waited for the moon to rise. She came at last, sending her white radiance in advance, blanching the thin clouds above her in the eastern sky. It seemed a fire on the mountains at the first glimpse of her. Slowly, she rose, shedding her waning light upon the garden. The night was so beautiful and so calm, that I felt awed. And as I lay in the stillness, I thought of all the old house had known, and of my life there, step by step. 89. How I had played under the Oaks of the grove, and wandered about the fields with my brother, all the long careless days of childhood. We invented games for every part of the place, a special one for the back piazza, another for the front verandah, a most exciting one called “Deer and Lion” for the upstairs passage and communicating bedrooms, on rainy days. The rock-brakes in the fields were our kingdoms, and a field of corn a mighty unexplored forest in which we lost our way. 90. And then they all came back to me, all the dear faces that I had loved, long since, and lost awhile. The garden was peopled with them, my friends of the long ago, they were all there, father mother, sister, and radiant child, and many others, friends, playmates, teachers, They moved about softly, with gentle steps, they filled the circle of vacant chairs by the hammock, left by the guests of the afternoon. I was not troubled nor afraid: The dim white figures came and went so tranquilly, they smiled at me so tenderly, and all their faces wore a look of pitying love. 91. It was an exalted dreaming, but it seemed to me that each one had brought me a blessing, and that I received consolation and uplifting from each. I thought of the broad charity, the warm-hearted generosity, and unsullied honor of one; the beautiful helpfulness and unselfishness of another, the brother’s heroic spirit; the sister’s nobility; and the joyous innocence of the child. And I besought them to help me to grow every day worthier to be one of them. They nodded gravely and kindly, and then it was as if they joined hands and sang together, words of heavenly promise and benediction. 92. They faded slowly away, up, up, where the white clouds waited for them, and the pure voices sounded fainter, and fainter and I awakened from my reveries, and went very slowly and softly into the house, and left the old garden to watch, in the moon’s company, through the tranquilly summer night. *** Fearlessly, into the Unknown Go forth, thou little soul. Launch out upon the trackless sea, Nor wind nor stars pilot thee Alone, alone alone! 93. Thine is a helpless plight thou canst not turn thy helm, Nor reach the harbor any more thou driftest to an unguessed shore, Dark, dark the night Yet launch and take no care; For what can care avail? In the dark void, the awful space, Where wand-rest thou to find thy place, thy God is even there. NARRATOR Danske died June 3, 1914 with no will. A gun went off at the house, with no one in the family home but bed-ridden Danske 94. Some of the town’s waggier tongues punished Danske for her aloof unconventionality calling her “ crazy”, the price for eschewing her quota of church picnics. Husband Stephen died about a decade later. He had fared much better as a delegate in the state legislature and was admired as a fine orator. Their artistic daughter Serena, also called “Miss Violet,” who also herded sheep and served the town’s poor with free milk daily from her cows, would live out her life at Rose Brake accompanied by her cousin Nina “Miss Nina” Mitchell – two of Shepherdstown’ most beloved denizens for all time. 95. ARDYTH (sing): We talked together, you and I; It was a queenly night in June; Low hung the moon in yonder sky, And on your cheek low glanced the moon. Your gentle hand was mine to hold: My ill-fed heart began to speak; And ever, as the tale was told, Dear friend, the moon was on your cheek.

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Jim Surkamp on the History of Jefferson County, WV Pt. 1 (captioning)

Jim Surkamp on the History of Jefferson County, WV Pt. 2 (captioning)

Jim Surkamp on the History of Jefferson County, WV Pt. 3 (captioning)

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justjefferson.com

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Martin Robison Delany (1812-1885) from Charles Town, WV – who Lincoln called “extraordinary”

Martin Robison Delany (1812-1885) from Charles Town, WV – who Lincoln called “extraordinary” Born to a freed African-American mother, Martin Delany lived his life motto to the letter: “Act, act in the Living present, but ACT. Face thine accusers, scorn the rack and rod, and if thou hast truth to utter SPEAK the truth . . and leave the rest to God.” Jim Surkamp, who developed an 800-page website on Delany for the WVU library and an hour-long video about him, tells the dramatic, bigger-than-life, ultimately tragic story of a man who was a novelist, co-editor of “The North Star,” doctor educated at Harvard Medical School, and leader of his own scientific expedition to the Niger River Valley, culminating with a lecture before Prince Albert’s International Statistical Society. Above all, Lincoln – so impressed after an interview with Delany – had him made possibly the first African American field officer in the U.S. Army in February, 1865. W.E.B. DuBois told a news reporter in the 1930s of Delany: ”His was a magnificent life, yet why is it we know so little about him?” We answer that question. Martin Delany 1812-1885 “To Be More Than Equal” Words: 682 By Jim Surkamp You had to see far into the future to see his true reflection. That future – today – is really when we see and can appreciate Martin Delany’s prescience. He rose before the world’s most prestigious scientific body in 1860 in London, faced the United States’ ambassador and said cooly and pointedly after pleasantries to the chair that “I am a Man,” fighting words that cleared the room and filled newspapers worldwide with big headlines. So here is this Virginia native son, Harvard-educated doctor; author of four weighty tomes; leader of a self-organized, year-long expedition to the Niger River Valley; arguably the first black field officer in the U.S. Army; co- editor of “The North Star;” inventor, father, husband – this moral engine of a man driven by the single motto: “Act in the Living present – But Act.” It goes on: “Face Thine Accusers, Scorn the Rack and Rod, and if thou Hath Truth to utter, Speak the Truth and Leave the Rest To God.” “Do not fail to have an interview with this most extraordinary and intelligent black man,” memo’d Abraham Lincoln to Edwin Stanton after meeting Delany one morning in February, 1865. Martin Delany was born May 6, 1812 in Charles Town, now West Virginia, one of five “freed” children to Patty Delany, a freed black, and Samuel, who would buy his own freedom. Her children taught each other to read under the arbor in their back yard. Soon, crudely written travel passes began turning up in the hands of enslaved Africans. Calling it a trip to see kin, the Delanys, one day in 1823, slipped away to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and freedom. He later wrote “Blake: The Huts of America” – about a traveling insurrectionist, Delany’s response to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Delany co-edited “The North Star” newspaper with Frederick Douglas beginning in 1847. Building on his years of apprenticing doctors in Pittsburgh as a cupper and leecher, Delany was accepted at Harvard Medical School. Protests from undergraduates forced three matriculated persons of color – one being Martin Delany – out, even though the faculty favored retention. Disillusioned, Delany wrote in 1852: “The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States,” chronicling many successful African-Americans and advocating an effort by his people to organize their own resettlement in the homeland of Africa John Brown sought out Delany in 1858, who was then a doctor in Chatham, Ontario and Delany organized for Brown a secret convention to hear of Brown’s plan to create an independent state for former, enslaved persons. Delany recruited African men in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Illinois to fight as soldiers for the Civil War. His fateful meeting with President Lincoln was a free exchange of ideas centering on Delany’s proposal to form a “Corps d’Afrique,” followed by Lincoln having him appointed as one of the very first African-American field officers, if not the first. His first assignment while being promoted to the rank of major was with the freedman’s bureau for the coastal plantations in South Carolina. Delany was shaken by the scope of graft in the state’s Republican Administration. Delany then caused a firestorm in 1876 for strongly backing for governor the person of Wade Hampton, a Confederate Major General, owner of plantations in several states, who demonstrated fairness. Hampton won by a slim margin. Then the tragedy that capped Delany’s long life: the new Governor-elect Hampton soon sat around a table of power brokers at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. to decide which of the two dead-heat Presidential candidates would be president – Rutherford B. Hayes or Samuel Tilden. They chose Hayes with Hampton providing a deciding vote and handful of electoral votes to Hayes. In exchange Hayes, promised in writing to withdraw the occupation U.S. Army from all of the South. So Martin Delany waved in 1880 as another ship set sail from South Carolina’s Charleston harbor to Africa, until the ship of hope shrunk on the horizon. His heart when with them. # # # “True Patriotism” – Martin Delany’s “Masterpiece” By Jim Surkamp on December 28, 2011 in Enslavement, Jefferson County Born in Charles Town, (today WV) May 6, 1812, Martin Delany died after a long, brave and diverse life January 24, 1885 in Wilberforce, Ohio. He wrote this in 1848 when he co-edited “The North Star” newspaper with Frederick Douglass. Scholar Prof. Robert S. Levine, who has edited “Martin R. Delany: A Documentary Reader,” has called this Delany’s “masterpiece.” Patriotism consists not in a mere professed love of country, the place of one’s birth – an endearment to the scenery, however delightful and interesting, of such country; nor simply the laws and political policy by which such country is governed; but a pure and unsophisticated interest felt and manifested for man – an impartial love and desire for the promotion and elevation of every member of the body politic, their eligibility to all the rights and privileges of society. This, and other than this, fails to establish the claims of true patriotism. From periods the most remote, the most improper application has been made of the endearing term Patriot. Whether the most absolute monarch, crowned with the hereditary diadem, armed with an unlimited sceptre, the most intolerable despot bearing the title of sovereign – the most cruel and heartless oppressor and slaveholder under the boasted title of President -the most relentless butcher and murderer called Commander-in-Chief – the most haughty and scornful aristocrat who tramples upon the people’s rights in the halls of legislation – the most reckless and unprincipled statesman “rioting upon the spoils of a plundered revenue” – whether Phillips, Curran or Gratan in defence of Irish constitutional liberty – Emmet upon the scaffold, refusing to let his epitaph be written until Ireland was free -William Tell, under sentence of death, baffling the schemes of the German tyrant, Gesler – the French baron, Lafayette, leaving his native country and princely fortune, to share in common the fate of the struggling American Washington, as the leader of his country’s destiny – O’Connell, as the Liberator – Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, or John Quincy Adams, standing in the frontal ranks as defenders of American rights, or Mitchell and O’Brien, who sacrificed their all, being forever divorced and exiled from the most tender ties of domestic affections, by the severity of the laws of their country, for daring to discard provisions deemed pernicious to the welfare of their countrymen; all have laid equal claim to a share of the popular gratitude, and been endowed with the loved title of patriot. A patriot may exist, whether blessed with the privileges of a country, favored with a free constituency, or flying before his pursuers, [and] roam an exile, the declared outlaw of the power that besets him. Love to man, and uncompromising hostility to that which interferes with his divine God-given rights, are the only traits which distinguish the true patriot. To be patriotic, is to be philanthropic; to be which, is necessary to love all men, regarding their humanity with equal importance. Much has been the interest felt and manifested in this country in every movement, with exceptions to be named, whether home or abroad, in favor of human liberty, and those who were foremost in the struggle, bequeathed their names to present and future time, to become the subject of the poet and the theme of the historian. Spain, Italy, Greece, Poland, Germany, France, England, Scotland and Ireland, of modern date, all, have had their patriots, each of whom in succession, has shared largely of America’s eulogium. And of all who have scanned the ordeal before them, there were none perhaps for whom there has been expressed more sympathy, than the late victims of British displeasure, the Irish patriots and convicts, Mitchell and O’Brien, especially the latter, the severity of whose sentence aroused every feeling and expression of opposition to the execution of the sentence. To witness the public demonstrations, as manifested in favor of the Irish struggle, in which Mayors of cities, Judges of Courts, sons of Ex-Presidents and Ex-Governors participated, and the universal interest felt in the result, is well tended to deceive, and betray into the idea those not otherwise advised, that this nation is a nation of justice. But how will America stand, when compared with other countries, dark as may be the gloom of their semi-barbarous laws? Condemned must she be in the moral vision of the whole enlightened world. Loud, long, and damning, must be the anathema uttered against her by those whom she treats and so regards in all her legal acknowledgments as aliens and enemies, ere their eyes be opened to a sense of their condition, and she still refuses to succor them. But how many patriots have lived, toiled, suffered and died, having worn out a life of usefulness, unobtrusively laboring in the cause of suffering humanity, living to the community and the world a life of seclusion, passing to and fro unobserved, amidst the stir and busy scenes of a metropolis, and the throng and bustle of assembled thousands. This class of patriots may be found in every country, but to none are they more common than America, and in no country would they meet with less acceptance than in this Republic. Ever professing the most liberal principles, proclaiming liberty and equality to all mankind, their course of policy gives a glaring contradiction to their pretensions, and the lie to their professions. Prone as they are to tyrannize and despotize over the liberties of the few, the philanthropist who espouses the cause of the oppressed, is destined to a life of obscurity; instead of commendation and renown, contempt and neglect are the certain and most bitter fruits of his reward. Marked and pointed out by the finger of scorn, he at once becomes the mock of the scoffer, and hiss of the reviler; and affliction heaped upon affliction presses upon him like a mountain weight, until at last he sinks under the mighty pressure, unable longer to bear it up. Yet, galling as this may be, it is a boon for which the downtrodden, oppressed American might anxiously long, compared with his own present miserable, unhappy condition. Among them have existed, and there do exist, those who are justly entitled to all the claims of true patriotism; but proscription, as infamous as it is wicked, has stamped the seal of degradation upon their brow; and instead of patriots, they become the felon and outlaw. Anticipated and preconcerted by an inquisition of prejudice and slaveholding influence, the colored man of this confederacy, especially the bondman, is doomed to ignominy, whatever may be his merits. Though he has complied with the first demand of a freeman – borne arms in defence of his country – no sooner is victory won, than he is unarmed, not only of his implements, but also of his equality with those among whom he bravely fought side by side for liberty and equality. Mathematician and philosopher he may be, not only furnishing to the country the only correct calendar of time and chronological cycles, but further contribute to its interest, by assisting in the plot and survey of the District of Columbia, without the aid of whose talents it could not at that time have been accomplished with mathematical accuracy; yet no sooner is this effected, than he is forgotten to the nation. Though in a professedly Republican and free Christian country, the yoke is upon his neck, and fetters upon his limbs, and dare he make the attempt to release himself and brethren from a condition little less than death itself, the whole country is solemnly bound, in one confederated band, to riddle his breast with ten thousand balls. Is he a slave the most abject of South America or Cuba, who, rising in the majesty of his nature, with a bold and manly bearing, heads his enslaved brethren, leading them on to a holy contest for the liberty of their wives, mothers, sisters and children, he is, with one universal voice, denounced in this country, as a rebel, insurrectionist, cut-throat; and all the powers of despotism, America in the foremost rank, sallies forth in one united crusade against him. Many are the untiring, uncompromising, stern and indefatigable enemies of oppression, and friends of God and humanity, now to be found among the nominally free colored people of this slavery-cursed land, at work laboring for the good of all men, though some have recently escaped from the American prison-house of bondage, bearing still fresh upon their quivering flesh the sting of the whip and marks of the lash, many of whom for talents and the qualified ability to write and speak, will favorably compare with the proudest despots and oppressors in the country. Though they speak, act, petition, remonstrate, pray, and appeal, yet to all this the wickedness of the American people turns a deaf ear, and closed eye. Hence, the American colored patriot lives but to be despised, feared and hated, accordingly as his talents may place him in the community – moving amidst the masses, he passes unobserved, and at last goes down to the grave in obscurity, without a tear to condole his loss, or a breast to heave in sympathy. But the time shall yet come, when the name of the despised, neglected American patriot, in spite of American prejudice, shall rise superior to the spirit that would degrade it, and take its place on the records of merit and fame. M. R. D. (The North Star, 8 December 1848, P. 2). “Blake: Huts of America” By Martin Robison Delany Excerpted from the chapter: “Fathers and Sons” in “Blake or The Huts of America: A Tale of the Mississippi Valley, the Southern United States;” (serialized in 1859 in “The Anglo-African Magazine;” 1861 and 1862 in the “Weekly Anglo African Magazine”). Delany wrote “Blake: Huts of America” in the early 1850s and it was serialized in a newspaper as the Civil War began. It was his forceful reply to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s spectacularly influential book, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” which Delany correctly saw as the imaginings of a woman who had barely been below the Mason-Dixon Line. Ms. Stowe’s later writings about slavery would move more and more closely to Delany’s worldview as rendered in “Blake.” “Blake” is about the factually-based, yet fictional wanderings of Henry, who sought to sow insurrection across the South. Delany drew from his experiences traveling at one time through Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas. But this chapter from “Blake,” clearly is about a visit to Bolivar and Charles Town in a fictional guise. “Blake” mentions “Mud Fort,” the first name of Bolivar. The book’s numerous family surnames are Charles Town families and Worthington’s Mill was a real place. Delany appears to have Henry come over from Virginia, perhaps the road from Hillsborough, VA (Route 671), and then take a ferry across the Shenandoah River to Harper’s Ferry. From 1830 through the 1850s, there was one there. Henry’s movements suggest him walking to Charles Town to perhaps the old Winchester-Potomac RR Train Station, a line from Harper’s Ferry that was built in the 1830s. “Davenport’s,” “Washington’s” and “Briscoe’s” plantations would have placed him first at the train station near Route 51, then moving west along Route 51, then southwest towards Middleway and Winchester along the Old Summit Road. – ED Chapter “Fathers and Sons” “From Washington taking a retrograde course purposely to avoid Maryland, where he learned they were already well advised and holding gatherings, the margin of Virginia was cut in this hasty passage, so as to reach more important points for communication. Stealing through the neighborhood and swimming the river, a place was reached called Mud Fort, some four miles distant from Harper’s Ferry, situated on the Potomac . . .” “Having lurked till evening in a thicket near by, Charleston (Charles Town – ED) was entered near the depot, just at the time when the last train was leaving for Washington (Winchester-Potomac going north to Harper’s Ferry, changing to the B&O railroad – ED). Though small, this place was one of the most difficult in which to promote his object, as the slaves were but comparatively few, difficult to be seen, and those about the depot were house servants, trained to be suspicious and mistrustful of strange blacks, and true and faithful to their masters. Still, he was not remiss in finding a friend and a place for the seclusion. “This place was most admirably adapted for the gathering, being held up a run or little stream, in a bramble thicket on a marshy meadow of the old Brackenridge estate, but a few minutes walk from the town (On land of the development today called Breckenridge off Flowing Springs Road and adjacent to Security Hills – ED). This evening was that of a strict patrol watch, their headquarters for the night being in Worthington’s old mills, from which ran the race, passing near which was the most convenient way to reach the place of gathering for the evening. “While stealthily moving along in the dark, hearing a cracking in the weeds and a soft tramping of feet, Henry secreted himself in a thick, high growth of Jamestown weeds along the fence, when he slightly discerned a small body of men as if reconnoitering the neighborhood. Sensible of the precariousness of his condition, the fugitive lay as still as death, lest by dint he might be discovered, as much fear and apprehension then pervaded the community. “Charleston (Charles Town), at best, was a hard place for a Negro, and under the circumstances, had he been discovered, no plea would have saved him. Breathlessly crouched beneath the foliage and thorns of the fetid weed, he was startled by a voice suddenly exclaiming: ‘Hallo there! who’s that?’ which proved to be that of one of the patrol, the posse having just come down the bank of the race from the mill. ‘Sahvant, mausta!’ was the humble reply. ‘Who are you?’ further enquired the voice. ‘Zack Parker, sir.’ ‘Is that you, old Zack?’ ‘Yes, mausta – honner bright.’ ‘Come, Zack, you must go with us! Don’t you know that Negroes are not allowed to be out at night alone, these times? Come along!’ said Davy Hunter. ‘Honner bright, maus Davy – honner bright!’ continued the old black slave of Colonel Davenport, quietly walking beside them along the millrace, the water of which being both swift and deep. ‘Maus Davy, I got some mighty good rum here in dis flas’ – you gentmen hab some? Mighty good! Mine I tells you, maus Davy – mighty good!’ ‘Well, Zack, we don’t care to take a little,’ replied Bob Flagg. ‘Honner bright, maus Bobby – honner bright!’ replied the old man. Hunter raised the flask to his mouth, the others gathering around, each to take a draught in turn, when instantly a plunge in the water was heard, and the next moment old Zack Parker was swinging his hat in triumph on the opposite bank of the channel, exclaiming, ‘Honner bright, gentmen! Honner bright! Happy Jack an’ no trouble!’ – the last part of the sentence being a cant phrase commonly in use in that part of the country, to indicate a feeling free from all cares. In a rage the flask was thrown in the dark, and alighted near his feet upright in the tufts of grass, when the old man in turn seizing the vessel, exclaiming aloud, ‘Yo’ heath, gentmen! Yo’ good heath!’ Then turning it up to his mouth, the sound heard across the stream gave evidence of his enjoyment of the remainder of the contents. ‘Thank’e, gentmen – good night!’ when away went Zack to the disappointment and even amusement of the party. Taking advantage of this incident, Henry, under a guide, found a place of seclusion, and a small number of good willing spirits ready for the counsel. ‘Mine, my chile!’ admonished old Aunt Lucy. ‘Mine hunny, how yeh go long case da all’as lookin’ arter black folks.’ Taking the nearest course through Worthington’s woods, he reached in good time that night the slave quarters of Captain Jack Briscoe and Major Brack Rutherford. The blacks here were united by the confidential leaders of Moore’s people, and altogether they were rather a superior gathering of slaves to any yet met with in Virginia. His mission here soon being accomplished, he moved rapidly on to Slaughter’s, Crane’s and Washington’s old plantations, where he caused a glimmer of light, which until then had never been thought of, much less seen, by them. The night rounds of the patrol of the immediate neighborhood, caused a hurried retreat from Washington’s — the last place at which he stopped – and daybreak the next morning found him in near proximity to Winchester, when he sought and obtained a hiding place in the woods of General Bell. The people here he found ripe and ready for anything that favored their redemption. Taylor’s, Logan’s, Whiting’s and Tidball’s plantations all had crops ready for the harvest. ‘An’ is dis de young man,’ asked Uncle Talton, stooped with the age of eighty-nine years, ‘dat we hearn so much ob, dat’s gwine all tru de country ‘mong de black folks? Tang God a’mighty for wat I lib to see!’ and the old man straightened himself up to his greatest height, resting on his staff, and swinging himself around as if whirling on the heel as children sometimes do, exclaimed in the gladness of his heart and the buoyancy of his spirits at the prospect of freedom before him: ‘I don’t disagard none on ’em,’ referring to the whites. ‘We have only ‘regarded’ them too long, father,’ replied Henry with a sigh of sorrow, when he looked upon the poor old time- and care-worn slave, whose only hope for freedom rested in his efforts. ‘I neber ‘spected to see dis! God bless yeh, my son! May God long yeh life!’ continued the old man, the tears streaming down his cheeks. ‘Amen!’ sanctioned Uncle Ek. ‘God grant it!’ replied Uncle Duk . . . .” • Home • About • References o • People o o o o o o o o o o • Places o • Videos • Podcasts • All Posts/Videos/Soldiers • Events • Contact Martin Delany of Charles Town, WV. By Jim Surkamp on December 28, 2011 in Civilian, Confederate, Enslavement, Jefferson County, Union, Wartime MARTIN DELANY (1812-1885): THE FORGOTTEN GIANT OF SELFHOOD (2012 is the 200th anniversary of his birth) Doctor, explorer, novelist, agitator, thrice a newspaper editor, one of the first black field officers in the U.S. Army, trial justice – all in one man – who was also black in a mostly white world that enslaved those black. “His was a magnificent life, yet why is it we know so little of him?” wrote W.E.B. DuBois.”. . . This most extraordinary and intelligent black man,” wrote no less than Abraham Lincoln after they met. But his long life ended as a Greek tragedy because one decision of his backfired and swept away much of everything he worked and stood for – a man who accomplished so much but few had followed or, and since then remembered. NOTE: (William N. Reed of the 35th U.S.C.T. preceded Delany as such a field officer – Service Records and “ U.S.C.T. and Commissioned Officers of African-American Descent.” 13 November 2011 Web 28 December 2011.) THE STORY Forty-seven year old Delany is on his way over Atlantic waves to see for the first time his psychic and spiritual home – Africa. “Act in the Living Present – The Life of Martin Robison Delany” – by Jim Surkamp MD: “And if I never more return – OK – I leave you here and journey on and if I never more return, farewell.” NARRATOR: Martin Delany finally gave up on America. His expulsion with two others from Harvard Medical School just because of skin color convinced him that the power of reason and merit alone did not in fact determine the country’s esteemed leaders. So, scraping together just a few hundred dollars, he rented a crew and ship to go back to Africa, where his grandfather Shango had returned several generations before. His critics, including Frederick Douglass, were legion. “You must stay here and fight for freedom,” they told him. Delany certainly reflected on his already long life: the long road as one of five children in a freed family in Charles Town Virginia; and after that fleeing because they illegally learned how to read, followed by the many years as a physician’s assistant in Pittsburgh, and then editing two influential newspapers. Most of all he remembered perhaps as he gazed at the sperm whales that wandered into those southern latitudes . . . Of the day he was walking the road to Pittsburgh in 1829 deciding – with his head filled with books and images of pharaohs and Africa – of making this pilgrimage in reverse back to Africa. “Land Ho!” NARRATOR: “The arrival of Martin Robison Delany in Liberia is an era in the history of African emigration, an event doubtless that will long be remembered by hundreds of thousands of Africa’s exiled children. Persons from all parts of the country came to Monrovia to see this great man.” Ridiculed and ignored in America for speaking – embraced by the thousands here for speaking – how strange. MD: “The regeneration of the African race can only be effected by its own efforts, the efforts of its own self and whatever aid may come from other sources; and it must, in this venture succeed, as God leads the movement and His hand guides the way.” “Face thine accusers, scorn the rack and rod and, and if thou hast truth to utter, speak and leave the rest to God.” But we pushed on to Abeokuta. . . . Africa taught Martin Delany its mysteries. MD: “The principle markets to see all the wonders is in the evening. As the shades of evening deepen, every woman lights her little lamp and, to the distant observer, presents the beautiful appearance of innumerable stars.” “But in the entire Aku country one is struck by the beautiful, clear country which continually spreads out in every direction.” Africa also taught him its nightmares. . . “I read August 13th in the ‘West African Herald’: “. . . King Dahomey is about to make the Great Custom in honor of the late – King Gezo. Determined to surpass all former monarchs, a great pit has been dug which is to contain human blood enough to float a canoe. Two thousand persons will be sacrificed on this occasion. The – King has sent his army to make some excursions at the expense of some weaker tribes. The younger people will be sold into slavery. The older persons will be killed at the Grand Custom.” MD: “Whole villages are taken.” “Farewell, farewell my loving friends, farewell. . .” The jasmine smells of Africa are tonight less fragrant than my scented memory of soft, honey-suckled summer’s night breezes in Virginia long ago, and awaking to the mockingbird. NARRATOR: On April 10th, 1860 at Lagos, Martin Delany and Robert Campbell boarded ship for London and Birmingham to seek backers for a plan to build freedman’s cotton farms in the Niger Valley. They would undersell, at the gold price of fourteen cents a pound, all the slave-wrought cotton from the plantations back home, to make bales of cotton rot on the docks of Charleston and New Orleans as it were. MD: When I was growing up in Pittsburgh, my children’s age – I worked hours and hours inscribing with a fine needle the Lord Prayer – all of it – on the face of an English six pence like this one. NARRATOR: Delany was not wanted in in the United States because of his radical political views. So he set sail for London and began preparing his report to his backers on the promise of Africa. MD: I’ve noticed that . . . when I read, my eyes scan the page . . . back and forth. . . and up and down, like a loom. I was so crazy about words, I was like Cervantes. I’d pick up every grimy scrap in the gutters of Charles Town to see if it had magic code to worlds beyond. I read and broke bread with the ideas and dreams of Thomas Jefferson and Socrates and ancient pharaohs. Then Grandma Graci at night would tell me about my grandfather, Shango. GRANDMA GRACI: “No more stories Martin.” MD: And off to sleep and dreams about the greatest people who ever lived. I wanted my children to accumulate great hopes. If I ever set shoe leather on New York’s dock, President Buchanan himself would drop the noose around my despised neck, since John Brown, who I knew, did rebel and killed, and was hanged, I didn’t reckon there would be much of a welcoming party for me. NARRATOR: Dr. Delany’s most prestigious speaking invitation was before the International Statistical Society, chaired by Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, and the most esteemed scientific body in the world on July 16, 1860, at London’s Somerset House. As the meeting was beginning at four, Lord Brougham, who hated American slavery, addressed the body which included the delegation from the United States, headed by Augustus Baldwin Longstreet. United States Ambassador George Mifflin Dallas was also seated on the dais. Both fervently believed as did their President that those persons called slaves were technically, legally, and truly three-fifths human – just a notch above a good horse. BROUGHAM: “I call to the attention of Mr. Dallas to the fact there is a Negro present, and I hope he will feel no scruples on that account.” MD: I was eye-to-eye with men who wished me dead. So many memories engulfed me. “I rise, your Royal Highness, to thank his Lordship, the unflinching friend of the Negro, for the remarks he has made to myself and to assure your Royal Highness and his Lordship that I AM a man.” NARRATOR: Withering amid what the London Times later called the wildest shouts ever from so grave an assemblage, Longstreet jumped up and led the United States delegation out of the hall. Ambassador Dallas stayed seated on the dais, silent. The proceedings ended. And Dr. Delany became an international sensation. Delany read the reactions to his actions from America. Even Frederick Douglass spoke well of him. A new President had been elected. His plans for Africa delayed by war there, and too many days of watching birthdays of his children go by from his cramped little room in London, cold rain drizzling outside and streaking his window pane. He wrote that memories leapt to life and pierced his heart with a golden spear and riddled his breast with precious stones. Memories, such as that of Lucinda Snow, the blind girl in the Ohio Asylum – who played for him Rose Bud on a piano for him shortly after his own dearest daughter had just died. Nothing, Delany decided, could keep him from being home in Chatham, Ontario by Christmas. There was hope there. It was 1860. Doctor Delany joined his family in Chatham, Dec. 29th, 1860 to help a flood of escaped ex-slaves. South Carolina voted to secede nine days before. Slavery was being challenged in earnest. On January 9th, 1861, Confederate shore batteries fire upon Federal supply ships approaching Fort Sumter. President Lincoln at his March 4th Inauguration said: “Plainly the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy.” Peacetime ends. Bull Run, July 21st, 1861 Stonewall Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign, May-June, 1862 Antietam, the bloodiest day in American military history, September 17, 1862 Fredericksburg, Dec. 13, 1862 Vicksburg, Dec. 1862 through May, 1863 “All persons held as slaves shall thenceforward be forever free and such persons of suitable condition will be received into the armed services.” President Lincoln, January 1st, 1863 179,000 men of color enlist. Three million remain enslaved. Confederate General Lee loses Gen. Jackson, his best, at Chancellorsville, May, 1863. Lee Gambles Over 50,000 casualties at Gettysburg foresees the ultimate defeat of the Southern Cause, July, 1863. Days later, angry anti-draft mobs in soldier-less New York City burn a Negro orphan asylum. And lynch twelve innocent freed blacks. The 7th New York militia helps restore order. On July 18th, public opinion is reversed by extreme bravery of men in the 54th Massachusetts’ Colored Regiment at Fort Wagner, South Carolina. “With silent tongue, clenched teeth, and steady eye, they have helped us on to this great consummation, while others have strove to hinder it.” A. Lincoln, April 26, 1864 A ninety-two per cent Republican vote by furloughed soldiers delivers big unexpected off-year wins in Ohio and Pennsylvania for Lincoln and his party. Abolitionist Lew Tappan writes: “We are coming out of the slanderous valley for we have lived to have old opponents say to us: “We were wrong.” “The year has brought many changes I thought impossible, May God bless this Cause.” Black recruit in Baltimore, MD. The U.S. Senate passes an amendment abolishing all slavery. The house still opposes. – April 9, 1864 Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest orders the murder of mostly black prisoners at Fort Pillow, April 12, 1864. “(it is hoped) these facts will demonstrate that Negro soldiers cannot cope with Southerners.” “Whatever happens there will be no turning back” – a letter to President Lincoln from his new commander, Gen. Grant, April, 1864. The Battle of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania, May 5th through 12th, 1864. “These men are incomprehensible standing from daylight to dark killing and wounding each other, then making jokes and exchanging newspapers.” Col.Theodore Lyman. Gen. Grant of his Cold Harbor, Va. attack, June, 1864: “I regret this assault more than any other.” Equal pay for black troops is finally enacted, June, 1864. A teacher in the occupied South writes: “Their cry is for ‘books’ and ‘When will school begin?’” Civilians become targets. Union Gen. Hunter torches “Leeland” and “Fountain Rock” in Shepherdstown, WV and VMI in July, 1864. General Jubal Early strikes back, levels Chambersburg, ransoms Hagerstown and Frederick, MD. “The valley is not fit for man or beast. I have destroyed 2,000 barns.” – “Gen. Philip Sheridan Gen. William Sherman writes: “We cannot change the hearts of these people. But we can make it so terrible and make them so sick of war, they will not appeal to it again.” “I can make my men march and make Georgia howl.” Gen. Sherman while cutting a swath of destruction fifty miles wide to Savannah to the sea. Martin Delany sought roles and work for Gen. Sherman’s thousands of “camp followers” Delany went to President Lincoln himself with an idea to make the South Carolina coastline a new Israel for freedmen and women who had been joining Sherman’s army marching across Georgia in the tens of thousands. First, Delany thought, they would be an army of Africa of able black men, recruited, trained, and then themselves becoming liberating soldiers and, after the war, these same men would become able keepers of the land, the same land Sherman had promised in South Carolina in January of that same year. Gen. Sherman tentatively gave, subject to the approval of the President of course, tens of thousands of acres of land, once owned by the plantation owners, to the freedman. Each family, Sherman ordered, would get forty acres – a place in the sun – and one army mule on loan. If Abeokuta failed to be Martin Delany’s promised land, the Carolina coastline would be his Israel. On a cold, clammy damp morning at 8 AM on Feb. 8th, Delany was welcomed by President Lincoln into his study at the White House. Lincoln had followed Delany’s doings for years. He knew him. On entering the executive chamber and being introduced to his excellency, a generous grasp of the hand brought me to a seat in front of him. AL: “What can I do for you, sir?” MD: “Nothing, Mr. President, but I’ve come to propose something to you, which I think will be beneficial to this nation in this critical hour of her peril.” AL: “Go on sir.” Delany and Lincoln discussed the value of black leaders for freed black Americans, and how so many feared black leadership. AL: “This is the very thing I’ve been looking for and hoping for; but nobody offered it. I have talked about it; I hoped and prayed for it. But up until now, it has never been proposed. “When I issued the Emancipation Proclamation, I had this thing in contemplation. I then gave them a chance by prohibiting any interference on the part of the army; but they did not embrace it.” MD: “But Mr. President, these poor people could not READ your proclamation.” While he spoke Lincoln was writing on a piece of paper. “Hon. E. M. Stanton: “Don’t not fail to have a meeting with this most extraordinary and intelligent black man – A. Lincoln.” AL: “Stanton is firing! Listen. He is in his glory. Noble man!” MD: “What is it? Mr. President” AL: “Why don’t you know? Haven’t you heard the news? Charleston’s ours.” NARRATOR: Martin Delany later in April, caught a stage for the cradle of Southern animosities, Charleston, South Carolina, a state which which turned by the magic stroke of a pen and the raising of a sword into a new land of opportunity. And reported to Gen. Rufus Saxton, a strong protector of freedman and who commanded the occupation forces in South Carolina. MD: “I entered the city which from earliest childhood and through life I had learned to contemplate with feelings of utmost abhorrence, where the sound of the lash at the whipping post, and the hammer of the auctioneer were coordinate sounds in thrilling harmony, such as might well have vied for the infamous – King of Dahomey.” “For a moment, I found myself dashing in unmeasured strides through the city. Again I halted to look upon the shattered walls of the once stately, but now deserted edifices. And but for the vigilance and fidelity of the colored firemen, there would have been nothing left but a smoldering plain of runs in the place where Charleston once stood.” NARRATOR: Chief Justice Salmon Chase in Charleston said: “A great race numbering four million is suddenly brought into freedom. All the world is looking to see whether the prophecies of the enemies of that race will be fulfilled or falsified. It rests upon the men of that race to tell.” Delany made it in time to see the flags changed at Fort Sumter, with his son, a young private, also there. And his old friend and comrade-in-arms, William Lloyd Garrison, who as he bade goodbye to a large adoring audience in Charleston said: GARRISON: “I have always advocated non-resistance; but this much I say to you: “Come what may, never will you submit again to slavery. Do anything. Die first! But don’t submit again to them, never again be slaves. Farewell.” NARRATOR: Major Delany, the first black field officer in the U.S. Army, quickly organized schools, farms, farmers, freedmen and tried to reason with the disenfranchised plantation owners, who were always trying to tie new freedman into enslaving contracts, exploiting their illiteracy. But Delany they loved. He was one of them and he told it to them straight. MD: “I came to talk to you in plain words so as you can understand how to open the gates of oppression and let the captive free. In this state there are 200 thousand able, intelligent honorable Negroes, not an inferior race, mind you.” “. . . I want to tell you one thing, do you know that if it was not for the black man, this war never would have been brought to a close with success. “Do you know that? . . . Do you know that?” NARRATOR: But they would be asked to submit again – and soon. From the moment a bullet penetrated the Great Liberator’s brain at Ford’s Theater, no such a grand promise of land and freedom would ever hold. In May, just a month later, the newly appointed President Johnson ordered all these lands – those not properly surveyed – returned to some 300 plantation owners – even if someone else’s crop was already growing in the field. One freedman wrote to Andrew Johnson himself: “We have been ready to strike for liberty and humanity, yea to fight if need be, to preserve the glorious union. And now, we are ready to pay for this land. ‘Sign contracts with your old master and work their land as partners’ This was the plea to most freed blacks. Throughout that long summer, Delany’s superiors Generals Howard and Saxton avoided Johnson’s order and eventually defied them outright until September when they broke the news to the freedmen they loved so much. An Edisto Island freedman wrote his friend, Gen. Howard: “You ask us to forgive the landowners of our island. You only lost your right to arm in war and might forgive them. The man who tied me to a tree and gave me thirty nine lashes, who stripped and flogged my mother and sister and who will not let me stay in his empty hut unless I do his planting – that man I cannot forgive. . . General we cannot remain here.” NARRATOR: Many left South Carolina. Some stayed and fought and were beaten. Delany fought: “Every species of infamy, however atrocious, private and public, bare-faced and in open daylight is defiantly perpetrated under the direction and guidance of the despicable political leaders in the sacred name of ‘Republicanism’ and ’Radicalism.’ “But these Yankees talk smooth to you. Oh yeh. Their tongues roll just like the drum. They don’t pay you enough.” I was told to stay out of politics. NARRATOR: The forty acres and a mule promised to freedmen were already secretly being returned to the planters courtesy of the tireless machinations of Trescott and Williams in Washington. They even got Gen. Sherman to write President Johnson. On the brink of being court-martialed himself for his opposition, Gen. Howard wrote his superiors: “The lands which have been taken possession by this bureau have been solemnly pledged to the freedman. Thousands of them are already located on tracts of forty acres each. The love of the soil and desire to own farms amounts to a passion. It appears to be the dearest hope of their lives.” NARRATOR: Within two years, the Freedman Bureau had its main function of redistributing the lands to previous owners and apologizing for it . . . Gen. Saxton had been reassigned, Howard court-martialed, but Lt. Col. Delany – a survivor – pressed on. He had made himself too valuable to too many people in a very short time. Republican politicians, like Christopher Columbus Bowen, who controlled the patronage at the Customs House, hated his dangerously incorruptible independence and integrity, but like everyone, bowed to his almost messianic hold on the freedmen – this the long-awaited black leader. And on the other side, the old Southern aristocracy saw Delany’s magic too. And planned to use him someday for their own ends. As one old Southern editor put, in grudging admiration: “Martin Delany is a genuine Negro.” MD: “No one who knows me will doubt my African proclivities. I have possessions in Africa which I hope to enjoy.” NARRATOR: The old Southern guard watched and waited. They noticed Delany’s perceptibly growing disgust with corruption, greased palms and greed that fueled his own Republican Party’s machine. MD: The Freedman’s Bureau was allowed to continue to return those 63,000 acres to the planters. I told freedman to get educated to see what was going on. Through two crop failures in 66 and 67, I told freedmen to rely on their muscles, their faith, and the righteousness of their cause. 1870 saw almost all of those 63,000 promised acres were back in planters hands and some 90,000 of South Carolina’s freedmen had left in disgust and desperation. 2,000 brothers and sisters set sail for my beloved Africa. The best of our people. Their hopes were gone before mine. Delany’s disgust with the politics of the Republican Party deepened on a trip to New York City when he represented the state on Wall Street in a bond issue. And he found out that Governor Chamberlain had given his old college chum and roommate $750,000 in commissions. The Old Southern guard watched and waited knowing that Martin Delany might be the key to regaining power. WADE HAMPTON: “We can control and direct the Negroes if we act discreetly.” MD: I would come to know people like General Wade Hampton an embodiment of the old South who invited me to speak at barbecue gatherings. HAMPTON: “If it means we can protect our state from destruction, I am willing to send Negroes to Congress. They will be better than anyone who can take the oath of loyalty and I should rather trust them than renegades or Yankees. . . . My experience has been that when a Yankee can do a bit of rascality, the temptation to do it is almost irresistible.” NARRATOR: No one, though, would be a more fateful associate in all of Martin Delany’s long and broad lifetime as General Wade Hampton, the old cavalryman, aristocrat and front man for the Old South. Who, yes, truly speaking personally for himself – wished for a better life for the freedman because he and Delany both fervently lived and advocated personal honor and a regimen of book learning and practical skills as every freedman’s road to true permanent economic redemption. It was only a matter of time that these two stars would head on a one-on- one collision course and one of those two stars would orbit around the other. If only there had been more than just one Wade Hampton and one Martin Delany. America’s working, educated electorate would have emerged sooner. But the personal prestige, humanitarian and pragmatic ways of each man could only briefly capture the public imagination, while, at all other times, whites, blacks, Democrats and Republicans slid disgracefully into the abyss where guns and bribes were constantly used as the preferred path to personal power and glory. Pressured out of the Freedman’s Bureau in 1869, Delany was retired from public life, selling real estate and editing his own newspaper, when Rev. Richard Cain came to him one day in 1872 and urged him to help elect Franklin Moses Governor. He might even get – for his efforts – a decent job later to support his seamstress wife, Catherine, and their large family. Delany could deliver freedmen’s votes. Hoping to enhance his own political fortunes in this state with a majority of black voters, and hoping to get more homesteads for freedmen, Delany stumped vigorously for Moses. Moses had always given lip service to Delany’s plan to attract Northern money to be long-term, low-interest loans to help the freedmen to buy and develop their own homesteads. Delany’s unvarnished truth-telling inspired the common people and irked those grubbing after filthy lucre. Wrote onetime governor B. F. Perry: “After mature reflection, I believe Col. Delany has exhibited in his speeches more wisdom and prudence, more honor and patriotism than any other Republican, white or black, in South Carolina.” Delany wrote that, should the homeless become landowners, they would at once become proportionately interested in the affairs of state. Before either school house or church can be erected, he said, the people themselves must be settled in homes of their own. Freedmen were leaving the state, denied the once promised forty acres virtually all back in original hands, and their life savings deposited faithfully in the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company, now gone from mismanagement.Delany knew his plan could work. In three years he organized white cotton wholesalers and freedmen farmers on Hilton Head Island into a peaceable alliance that grew and harvested the crop profitably. Moses was elected. So was “Honest John” who boasted he bought his seat in the U.S. Senate for $40,000. But Governor Moses continued to drive even higher the state debt. It had already soared from one to over seventeen million dollars in the previous five years. Moses then raised taxes on freed holders to pay for all this. And he lined his pockets with priced pardons sold to 503 imprisoned felons. And they were all released into this heavily armed, hate-filled powder keg land. And Governor Moses gave Delany no job. Rev. Cain wrote Moses: “I had assured Mr. Delany that you would not break faith. He has staked all on your word. For Heaven’s sake, do not cast him away.” Seeing Beaufort’s old St. Helena Church summed up a visitors’ feeling in 1873 about every South Carolina town he saw. It was one of complete prostration, dejection, stagnation. VISITOR: “Utter stagnation marks its streets and everything is flavored with decay. The mockingbird sings as if winter has no meaning for them. The old mansions are permeated with the air of desertion. The merry tinkling that proceeds from the closed shutters of one of them seems altogether dissonant with the surroundings.” Bad crops, bad weather, a lost position in world cotton markets, a national depression – this all contributed. So by 1874, all of South Carolina, including Delany’s beloved St. Helena Island, looked like an armed camp. The Ku Klux Klan was forming almost three hundred rifle clubs that once beat two hundred freedmen and killed four more in just nine months, in just one county. Freedmen either armed themselves, or prayed the Federal troops would never leave. Some freedmen and their families slept in the swamps in the mild winter where the men in hoods and facemasks could not find them. Wrote the editor of the Edgefield Advertiser in one of the states’ most strife-torn counties: “Good people now look upon the entire electoral contest as a struggle between thieves and plunderers.” And they worried: “Among the whites is a class of men who hold human life at little value, and among the colored people there is a class who do not wish to labor and are known as habitual thieves or disturbers of the peace. Gen. Rufus Saxton wrote back his old friend Robert Smalls about these darkest of times in South Carolina: “I rejoiced when the right of suffrage came and I sorrowed when it was told that some had sold this precious birthright for a miserable mess of potage.” A few years earlier, Delany heard the church bells ring when the Fourteenth Amendment had been passed; but it was a hollow sound. He saw freedmen unable to read show up at the Freedmen’s Bureau with great baskets. The word, “Registration” sounded not much different from that other word: “provisions.” The Republicans’ vampire-like bite into the state’s ebbing lifeblood blinded them to that emerging menace and giant, the old Southern Democrats and their gun-toting right wing rabble. Delany saw this disaster collision coming. MD: Again and again I warned the majority Republicans to go easy on the white planters because one day the shoe would go over to their foot. And sure enough it did. NARRATOR: Delany ran for lieutenant governor in 1874 on an independent reformed Republican ticket, getting 64,000 votes as the corrupt Chamberlain won. MD: I lost my race but the planters got the shoe on their foot capturing the majority of seats in the statehouse. NARRATOR: Delany was made justice of the peace in Charleston when, as the gubernatorial election drew near in 1876, was indicted, courtesy of Governor Chamberlain, for misusing the funds of a dirt poor black church. Hardly. The implicit threat was: do not support Wade Hampton who was now the official candidate against Chamberlain with all the wealth and smart men the Old South could muster squarely behind him.Hampton and Delany always appealed to people’s desire for peaceful solutions based on reason and fair play. HAMPTON: “I pledge myself solemnly in the presence of the people of South Carolina and in the presence of my God that, if the Democratic ticket is elected – not one single right enjoyed by the colored people today shall be taken from them.” NARRATOR: As violence increased the extreme Democratic clubs secretly assigning one man to personally bribe or scare one freedman from voting, as Chamberlain’s campaign promises became more grotesque and desperate, Delany announced for Wade Hampton in September, 1876 – immediately putting his life at risk. MD: Freedmen, I told one and all, were serving a new master now: the radical Republican Carpetbaggers. I said the blackest truth out loud – a black man would not be allowed to lead, not just to live, but to lead. I myself always dared to do what the white men ever dared and done – to pull on every lion’s tail a white man has pulled. NARRATOR: On October 16th, C.C. Bowen promised Delany that his party of white and black Democrats could speak to freedmen on Edisto Island. Before his steamer left the Charleston wharf a number of Republican negroes gathered and they noisily demanded that they be permitted to take passage and threateningly declared that they wanted a chance to clean out those Democrats. MD: The audience at the meeting of some 500 or 600 “African citizens” was by far the most uncouth, savage and uncivilized that I have ever seen. As soon as I mounted the wagon, the Republican Negroes started to beat their drums and left in a body. They would not listen to “De Damn Democrats. They marched off and the women crowded around the wagon with their bludgeons, threats, and curses. I rose to speak on the wagon. They interrupted me as I said: “I had come to South Carolina with my sword drawn to fight for the freedom of the black man. . . . I had warned you against trusting your money to the Freedman’s Bank; and that you had, to your sorrow, paid no heed to my warnings.” In violation of the agreement that neither party should carry guns or rifles to the place of meeting, the Negroes had brought their muskets and secreted them in a nearby swamp and in an old house near a church not far from the speaking ground. They marched out of the swamp with their arms and opened fire upon the whites who were unarmed. In the meantime I, Mr. William E. Simmons, and several aides to white men had taken refuge in a brick house adjoining the church. The Negro militia charged out of the swamp surrounded the brick house and tried to batter down the door. Failing in this, they broke open the windows and pointed their muskets at us. We all escaped except for Mr. Simmons, who upon emerging from the door was knocked down and beaten to death. Six white men were killed and sixteen whites wounded that day. One black man was killed. The siege of Cainhoy continued for several days afterwards. NARRATOR: Hampton did win by a fiercely contested 1100 vote margin, the difference coming from some 3,000 Republican, black voters who followed Delany’s example. All of America’s fate, in one sense, pivoted on this handful of votes. MD: I had hurt the cause of my people beyond all imaginings. NARRATOR: Then Wade Hampton made history. With his election for governor still in dispute and the state in anarchy he met at the Willard Hotel with president-elect Rutherford B. Hayes, who held onto his election by one electoral vote. To keep his single electoral vote lead, Hayes and Hampton agreed that Hayes would support and confirm Hampton’s election as Governor and as Hampton wrote Hayes: HAMPTON: “If the Federal troops are withdrawn from the State House, there shall be on my part or that of my friends no resort to violence but we shall look for their maintenance solely to such peaceful remedies as the Constitution and laws of the State provide.” MD: U.S. soldiers were removed from the South on Hampton’s pact with Hayes – and I helped that. One person called it the abandonment of the colored race. Wade Hampton appointed me judge and I remained until he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1879. But the secret, all-white Charleston County Democratic committee methodically organized the state, county-by-county and parish-by-parish to crush the Republican party and all spokesmen for Reconstruction. My son drowned in the Savannah River. His body was found in December, late 1879. My wife Catherine, who had carried our family during my long absence, needed me. I was old. My children needed their college educations at Wilberforce. The books that set my dreams afire long ago belonged to them now. So I was there on the dock when a ship – the Azor – set sail for Liberia from Charleston harbor full of hopeful friends, with my fondest dreams on that distant shore. My torch had passed from me. His loving admirers gave him the Liberian flag on that dock for his many, many years of inspiration to act on their dreams. “Almost all his many children became teachers. His name is misspelled on his tombstone. His life’s work was lost when a library burned. And the ancestors of those who left for Africa in his lifetime and with his blessing still turn the native soil. MD: ”Act, act in the living present – but act. Speak the truth and leave the rest to God.” GRANDMA GRACI: No more stories, Martin. No more stories, Martin. End Resources – Other Than Delany: Griffith Cyril E. (1973). “Martin R. Delany and the African Dream, 1812-1885.” Ann Arbor, MI.: Michigan State University. Griffith Cyril E. “Martin R. Delany and the African Dream, 1812-1885.” books.google.com 24 November 2005 Web. 28 December 2011. Griffith Cyril E. “The African dream: Martin R. Delany and the emergence of pan-African thought.” books.google.com 24 November 2005 Web. 28 December 2011. Levine, Robert S. “Martin Delany, Frederick Douglass and the Politics of Representative Identity,” University of North Carolina Press, 1997. Print. Rollin, Frank A. (1883). “Life and Public Service of Martin R. Delany: Sub assistant commissioner Bureau relief of refugees, freedman, and of abandoned lands, and late, Major 104th U.S. colored troops,” Boston, MA: Lee and Shepard. Print. Simkins, Francis B.; Woody, Robert. (1966). “South Carolina During Reconstruction.” Gloucester, MA.: Peter Smith. Sterling, Dorothy (1971). “The Making Of An Afro-american: Martin Robison Delany, 1812-1885.” Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Inc. Sterling, Dorothy (1971). “The Making Of An Afro-american: Martin Robison Delany, 1812-1885.” Amazon.com 27 April 2007 Web. 28 December, 2011. Surkamp, James T. (1853). “To Be More Than Equal: The Many Lives of Martin R. Delany 1812-1885. West Virginia University Libraries. 9 Nov. 1999. Web. 26 Dec. 2010. Ullman, Victor.(1971). “Martin R. Delany: The Beginnings of Black Nationalism.” Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Print. Resources – Delany: “Martin R. Delany – A Documentary Reader.” (2003). Robert S. Levine, ed. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. Print. “Martin R. Delany: A Documentary Reader.” edited by Robert S. Levine. Amazon.com 29 June 2007 Web. 28 December, 2011. Delany, Martin R. (1859). “Blake or The Huts of America: A Tale of the Mississippi Valley, the Southern United States.” (serialized in 1859 in “The Weekly Anglo African Magazine.” Print. Delany, Martin, R. (1859). “Blake: The Huts of America.” Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library. 14 July 2007. Web. 26 Dec. 2010. Delany, Martin R. (1852). “The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States Politically Considered,” (Philadelphia, PA): published by the author. Print. Delany, Martin R. (1852). “The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States Politically Considered.” Internet Archives: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music, and Wayback Machine. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 26 Dec. 2010. Delany, Martin R. (1861). “Official Report of the Niger River Valley Exploring Party.” by M.R. Delany, Chief Commissioner to Africa. New York, NY and London, Eng.: Self-published. Print. Delany, Martin R. (1861). “Official Report of the Niger River Valley Exploring Party.” MyBeBooks. 27 July 2008. Web. 30 Dec. 2010. Delany, Martin R. (1879). “Principia of Ethnology: The Origin of Races and Color with an Archaeological Compendium and Egyptian Civilization from Years of Careful Examination and Enquiry.” Philadelphia, PA: Self-published. Print. Delany, M. R. (1853). “The origin and objects of ancient Freemasonry, its introduction into the United States, and legitimacy among colored men : a treatise delivered before St. Cyprian Lodge, no. 13, June 24th, A.D. 1853, A.L. 5853.“ Pittsburgh, PA: W. S. Haven. Print. Delany, M. R. (1853). “The origin and objects of ancient Freemasonry, its introduction into the United States, and legitimacy among colored men : a treatise delivered before St. Cyprian Lodge, no. 13, June 24th, A.D. 1853, A.L. 5853.“ Pittsburgh, PA: W. S. Haven. Print. hathitrust.org. 19 September 2008 Web. 20 March 2012. Image Credits: 1. Smithsonian Institution 2. 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Destroyed Chambersburg, PA., 1864 Miller, Francis Trevelyan. (1912). “The photographic history of the civil war in ten volumes.” Vol. 3. New York, NY: The Review of Reviews Co. p. 163. Print. Miller, Francis Trevelyan. (1912). “The photographic history of the civil war in ten volumes.” Vol. 3. Internet Archives: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music, and Wayback Machine. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 26 Sept. 2010. 67. Sheridan’s army foraging in the Shenandoah Valley, 1864 Strother, David H., “Personal Recollections of the Civil War.” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, New York, NY: Harper and Bros. Volume 35, Issue: 210, November, 1867. p. 708. Print. Strother, David H. (November, 1867). “Personal Recollections of the Civil War.” Harper’s Magazine. 7 May 2008 Web. 20 Oct. 2010 68. William T. Sherman Wikipedia English. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 20 May 2011. 69. William T. Sherman on horseback at Federal Fort No. 7, Atlanta, 1864 – Library of Congress Miller, Francis Trevelyan. 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(1975). “The Great South.” Internet Archives: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music, and Wayback Machine. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 24 December 2011. 81. Charleston, S.C. View of ruined buildings through porch of the Circular Church (150 Meeting Street) – Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 82. 82. Salmon P. Chase. Wikipedia English. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 20 December 2011. 83. Flag-raising Fort Sumter Charleston Harbor 1865 Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Wikipedia English. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 20 September 2011. 84. William Lloyd Garrison House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College. 6 October 2008 Web 26 December 2011. 85. Homer, Winslow. “Defiance,_Inviting_a_Shot_before_Petersburg.” 1864. Wikipedia English. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 20 September 2011. 86. Martin Robison Delany full figure in uniform “Martin Robison Delaney(sic)” History of Wilberforce MarjorieMcClellan.org 20 January 2010 Web. 27 December 2011. 87. Martin Robison Delany (same image as 86, but close up) “Martin Robison Delaney(sic)” History of Wilberforce MarjorieMcClellan.org 20 January 2010 Web. 27 December 2011. 88. Andrew_Johnson Wikipedia English. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 20 September 2011. 89. Gen. O. O. Howard. History E-Library. Civil War Sites Series. 21 April 1997 Web. 21 December 2011. 90. King, Edward. (1975). “The Great South.” Hartford, CT.: American Publishing Company, Inc. p. 784. Print. King, Edward. (1975). “The Great South.” Internet Archives: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music, and Wayback Machine. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 24 December 2011. 91. Plowing in South Carolina LC-USZ62-134227 (b&w film copy neg.) Library of Congress 92. Christopher Columbus Bowen Wikipedia English. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 27 December 2011. 93. Major Martin Delany Wikipedia English. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 27 December 2011. 94. Scott political cartoon University of South Carolina Library 12 July 2011 Web 27 December 2011. 95. Edisto Island, SC. James Hopkinson’s Plantation. Group going to field. ca. 1862-1863. “Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society.” Library of Congress. American Memory.25 February 2001 Web. 24 December 2011. 96. Governor Daniel H. Chamberlain Youfind. Yale Library. 25 October 2008 Web. 27 December 2011. 97. Wade Hampton Wikipedia English. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 27 December 2011. 98. Freedom and Pardon From Governor Moses – Harper’s Weekly. 99. Martin Delany as a civilian. Simkins, F.B.; Woody, Robert H. (1966). “South Carolina During Reconstruction.” Gloucester, MA.: Peter Smith. p. 114. Print. 100. Benjamin Franklin Perry South Caroliniana Library 30 June 2011 Web. 27 December 2011. 101. Mountain of debt – Harper’s Weekly, July 25, 1874, P. 616. 102. Frank_Buchser_Old_Virginia_1870 Wikipedia English. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 27 December 2011. 103. KKK Digital Gallery.New York Public Library 5 April 2005 Web 27 December 2011. 104. Dead man Digital Gallery.New York Public Library 5 April 2005 Web 27 December 2011. 105. “The Bright Side” by Winslow Homer published: Downes, William Howe. (1911). “The Life and Works of Winslow Homer.” Boston, MA.; New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Co. p. 38. Print. Downes, William Howe. (1911). “The Life and Works of Winslow Homer.” Internet Archives: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music, and Wayback Machine. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 15 December 2011. 106. Robert Smalls 6 April 2001 Web. 27 December 2011. 107. church spire, Charleston, SC – King, Edward. (1975). “The Great South.” Hartford, CT.: American Publishing Company, Inc. p. 443. Print. King, Edward. (1975). “The Great South.” Internet Archives: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music, and Wayback Machine. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 24 December 2011. 108. James Hopkinson’s Plantation – 1862-1863 “Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society.” Library of Congress. American Memory. 25 February 2001 Web. 24 December 2011. 109. Cartoon of Wade Hampton and D. H. Chamberlain – Leslie’s Weekly. 110. Satellite view Edisto Island, SC – Googlemaps 111. Serious older woman – King, Edward. (1975). “The Great South.” Hartford, CT.: American Publishing Company, Inc. p. 437. Print. King, Edward. (1975). “The Great South.” Internet Archives: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music, and Wayback Machine. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 24 December 2011. 112. man with gun from “Shotgun Policy” Thomas Nast – Harper’s Weekly. 113. dead man detail from “Shotgun Policy” Thomas Nast – Harper’s Weekly. 114. Wade Hampton Wikipedia English. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 27 December 2011. 115. Willard Hotel Wikipedia English. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 27 December 2011. 116. Rutherford B. Hayes Wikipedia English. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 27 December 2011. 117. Martin Delany Wikipedia English. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 27 December 2011. 118. Wilberforce – Googlemaps 119. The Battery – Charleston King, Edward. (1975). “The Great South.” Hartford, CT.: American Publishing Company, Inc. p. 445. Print. King, Edward. (1975). “The Great South.” Internet Archives: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music, and Wayback Machine. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 24 December 2011. 120. Sea foam detail from Headpiece, The Flying Dutchman, from North Folk Legends of the Sea, published in Harper’s Monthly Magazine, January 1902. Print. 121. Drawing of boy driving cart in Charleston, SC. Harper’s Weekly. 122. Drawing of three people talking in Charleston, SC. Harper’s Weekly. 123. Harriett Murray with her students Elsie and “Puss” Laura Matilda Towne First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia. 12 September 2007 Web. 28 December 2011. 124. ship – Wikipedia English. 27 Oct. 2009. Web. 27 December 2011.

Hospice Under a Full Moon 1985

Hospice 1985

The sun is setting on the halls of Hospice in Martinsburg City Hospital In West Virginia

It’s five o’clock. Nurses and a volunteer place trays of food in the six rooms where eight people stay. As night falls, hall lights go on. Fluorescent tubes hum. A visiting family prepares to leave after an afternoon with “Mom.” The elevator doors close. The mother, who has, cancer, is alone again. The day with the family has been special for her. They all had a “picnic” in the Hospice solarium. Everyone was there. The mother saw that they cared. All these precious moments she would perhaps relive in the darkness of her hospital room.

She turns over in her bed and drifts into sleep. Memories like waves wash up long forgotten relics and times reaching back to childhood, weddings, senior proms, first tricycles, first communions, spankings, birth of the first child, first kisses, teenage crushes, overdue expressions of love, stayed-with challenges, neglected hurts, and funerals. With the darkness of night, all these memories, near and far, seem near. Sometimes the austere truth of her approaching death rises in her imagination like the full moon.

A hospice volunteer calls this the Work. Everyone who faces death must face ultimate personal helplessness. And quiet evenings alone such as this surmised evening experienced by this mother of two are the time when the best work is done. Lying helpless at death’s door forces you to reach out for new sources of strength. For the cries, curses, and sorrows to lead to an acceptance of one’s death is to be purified by a white fire.

Two of the great keys are the words: “I love you for who you are and what you face.” And “You are never alone in spirit.” In being involved or near the deaths of about sixty people over fifteen months, there are moments lived that make me grow in the sheer act of remembering them. Like the mother, I remember in order to grow.

There were the deep, dreaming eyes of the eighty-year-old African-American woman, triumphantly and savoringly whispering the 26th Psalm to herself.

There were the dimming eyes of the man who died quietly without his wife of sixty-four years being there.

There was a dear friend and fifty-seven-year-old woman who pulled loose a catheter from her arm and walked out in the night-time hallway to find “Daddy.”

There remains the memory of the leathery hands of the tough-looking man who gently folds the blanket and sheets of his fatally-ill wife as if they were the hem of his princess.

The nobility that surfaces so often in people facing death has made clear to me that one could spend a lifetime learning and growing in the midst of dying. This is because the truth you seek in the secret of death lies right at the heart of what it means to live every day.

For me, it’s the discovery that a life devoted to relieving suffering where you find it leaves a person emotionally “wounded,” which translated to French means “blesse'” or blessed.

The heightened awareness achieved by many very ill people is unsparing and sees first and foremost whether you really, in your heart, care for them as a fellow human being. The great challenge of hospice is that, at the rock bottom, you must stand completely naked, in a spiritual sense, before this person, or you tend to fail.

You must be willing to connect with that person personally and as a friend and nurture that bond .

Conversations between friend of dying friend are closer to the bone, but not rough in their import.

Perhaps the best preparation for death is to live life like there is no tomorrow. And the best resources to a person dying at death’s door is a rucksack full of sea-shell like memories.

Death can be made hollow by the person who is more wonderful than death is terrible because life that is given away over the years cannot be snatched away in the end. The generous person’s form returns to dust, but the person lives on as a parable that is told, and re-told and re-told.

“I Never Knew A Building Could Die” By Jim Surkamp (9/11) (391 words)

It seems the Twin Towers never existed, but in our dreams.

I walked to work on lower Broadway one crisp autumn morning, grown-ups everywhere pointing at some speck way, way up.

A man was dancing on a high-wire between the tops of the Twin Towers. For an hour . . . weightlessly, fearlessly. Phillipe Petit gave this and all New York shared his soaring bliss.

The Twin Towers beckoned him to “walk” to God’s very doorstep.

I was so excited two years later when my company, moved to the 92nd floor of One World Trade Center. With a shoe propped up, I would gaze, while on the phone, at the tiny tall ships in the river, small planes flying below, the Jersey plain with a patch called Newark.

You saw every day, glistening currents reaching for the Atlantic holding a little trinket: the Statue of Liberty.

Unforgettable still the one golden sunset: a spill of liquid gold conquering a gray-blue, world. Everyone was drawn to the window, as the South Tower smiled an ultimate orange.

“That’s the 92nd Floor, One World Trade Center,” I used to say on the phone, an address Caesar would love.

Spilling with the other salmon off the escalators, I’d stride across the great blue carpet to a tall mighty elevator that zoomed to the 78th floor. (I once walked right into my own image in the mirror-like side panel!) .

But every single day – once – I’d think – this is too high.

This sky-borne mansion groaned and swayed. Lightning lashed it. “Towering Inferno” was at the movies.

Then I saw that day on television that wild, black horse of a devil-stew crashing to earth, crushing thousands of people unto dust too soon and wrong – and I was remembering.

Forty people on the 92nd floor at 10:26 AM were breaking windows where my desk had been as flames approached. Then at 10:28 came the black horse.

No one in the North Tower above the 92 floor – and the 92 floor – lived. Everyone below the 92nd floor – lived.

The Twin Towers, fulfilled their mission, returned to the gods, now just a memory and a hole where there was greatness and grandeur. They were a strange god that inspired one man to fly like a bird, while thousands swooned; and transfixed a few to blow it all to hell while billions wept.

Video: 9-11 World Trade: Exhibit #P200336, “They Are Us” By Jim Surkamp (5:03)

Video: 9-11 World Trade: Exhibit #P200336, “They Are Us” By Jim Surkamp (5:03)
By admin on February 4, 2012 in Jim Surkamp’s Writings

To view 9-11 World Trade: Exhibit #P200336, “They Are Us” By Jim Surkamp,
Click Here. Music is courtesy of Stephen Schneider from the CD “Momentum.”

Don’t Mean Nothin’ by Jim Surkamp (Read/Listen)

NOTE: Professor Kevin Williams of Shepherd University made DMN possible with his skill and dedication in co-creating the sound design of Don’t Mean Nothin, in addition to his sound engineering work, already noted below. – JS

To listen, Click Here, then Click Here for the final half of the program. (Both are about 25 minutes).

Two True Hitchhiking Stories Lived and Written About By Jim Surkamp

The night of the two twisted but lovable blondes – as lived and remembered by Jim Surkamp

At the toll booth at Trenton around nine at night, May, 1982. Dark, a silhouette of a big road warrior hotel about a mile away, the sickly light of the bank of toll booths is over my shoulder. No rides.. Hitching after dark always brings out monsters, they probably think. I’m hitching from New York after hitching all day to there from my sister’s place in Boston.

It’s Friday evening, the blonde guy who drove me there from the foot of the ramp to the New Jersey Turnpike in Hoboken worked in the World Trade Center, about mid-twenties, starched shirt and tie. Mentioned en route here that he had taken some quaaludes and was feeling pretty, ah, you know? I hadn’t learned diplomatic thank you’s yet as a three month old hitch hiker. About three times he reached down to the stick shift in his little car and twice I noticed he let his hand brush infinitesimally on the left upper thigh of my jeans. Years later I thought, “Don’t wear tight jeans when you hitch. Don’t hitch at night.” The long, spirited Mr Chips scarf might have sent the wrong message to motorists sizing me up. I get the horny guy.

As I had gotten out of the car with a kind of studiously detached demeanor, I shown him all my agape love and acted deaf when he said: “Please.” He finally said he wanted to have some sex. Oh. “Thank you, but no thanks. Take care. Bye.”

So I was prepared a little for Chris who pulls up in this big heavy breathing, red horndog American-made monster, sparkling new. Later I figured someone rented it – but not Chris.

I get in, say “Thank you.” Say my name, where I’m going, to defuse things. Chris is about mid-twenties, short blonde hair, in jeans and a short sleeve top. Kinda attractive.

“I’m Chris.” She said, not listening, looking out the back and saying out loud to her self. “The state police are lookin’ for me.”

It seems “Ebony and Ivory” bathed our front seat as we rolled south, for me McLean Virginia, she Aberdeen, Md., where, she explained, she needed to get there to get some heroin, which she injected into her neck. She was really needing. Someone told me later that heroin addicts are pussy cats except when they’re strung out. I decided to be very nice, to help keep her centered, mellow for the trip.

The I Ching says: “Do not woo” – good advice for hitchhikers. Just being there is perfect.

We stopped at either the Walt Whitman, Clara Barton or Kilmer rest stop for gas and we sat at the counter for something to eat. Chris told me she used to be a waitress. Then, she smiled: “But now I sell my body.” Ahh. The car was her last customer’s unsolicited bonus offering, at the big road warrior hotel no doubt, where he’s deciding who to call. (His wife?)

It’s later and later. I just am quiet. After Delaware, Chris sees I’m not a customer. Her talk about wanting me to go to Aberdeen with her to see her buddies wore off long ago. She injected hers in her neck.

We both look ahead as Ebony and Ivory plays once again on the radio. “Living in perfect harmony.” Our theme song.

We commune cadenced by the pulsing yellow line.

She said something about her child who lived with her mother.

Somewhere on this spring, balmy night Chris got off at the Aberdeen exit, told me to start in the morning at the exit right up there to the right down the road to get back on the road.

Pulling my bag out of the back seat, I looked in: “Thanks Chris.” and very softly I added: “Your child needs her momma.” Somehow I think it should be called the night of the twisted but lovable blondes.

 

 

In September ’85, I headed up the Jersey turnpike, wearing big horn-rimmed glass, white pants turned up with a drawstring for a belt, and flip flops, designed to attract real trouble.

It was slow going and I’d gone only sixty miles in maybe two hours. I hitched, my thumb out, rocking on my flip flops as cars stonily passed in numbers. Taking my cheerful inviting smile as only proof that I actually liked being insane.

I also wore my striped shirt with the personally sewed-on, bright un-matching buttons, humming my assuring “My Favorite Things.” under my breath and when more tired, “Ohm mani padme hmmmm.”

Hot, very bright light, slight grade up, leading up to me across from the big rest stop in northern Delaware. Plenty of time to look me over. A sign a little too small saying “NYC.”

Then there came the one named John. I got in. “I’ve been there a long time. Thank you very much.”

“It’s the glasses,” John said. He had unkempt blonde hair, heavy physique, tee-shirt and was comfortable within an enclosed area filled with Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s album/tape – “Brain Salad Surgery.”

“People think you’re a weirdo,” he offered, throwing me just a glance, suggesting that he’d seen much worse.

He talked a lot. “Dat-a-dat-a-dat-a-dat-a.” About the first time he tried out a motorcycle, flooring to 100 miles an hour “to get out the carbon.” How dad gave him a $10,000 college loan for his tuition which – he seemed to strut sitting in the driver’s seat – he partied away in two wasted forgotten weeks of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

Almost as good as the time he went in the bar in New Orleans with the New York Giants on the tube
playing the New Orleans Saints and John told everyone that Kenny Stabler was a “faggot.”

“I’d just go up to the biggest, dumbest guy and punch him. It’d be great. We’d break chairs. But when the knives come out,” John said piously.” I leave.”

Good boy John. The huge swaggering bass of ELP’s version of “Peter Gunn” and screaming fans filled the car and sailed out on the breeze as John talked straight ahead, non-stop, his arm resting on the open window.

I noticed I said something or nothing only when John needed air. We stopped for gas at a rest stop with the Big Apple in the twilight distance. I saw John with legs moving around quickly talking up the gas guy, like an old friend.

I was going to Staten Island because he was. It was where he grew up. They’d be glad to see him I’m sure.

John thought a ride on the Staten Island ferry would round out my experience and persona well. I never argued with John. We shook hands gave each other a look meaning the trip was a real thing, worth remembering.

I tipped a wave as he roared out in reverse, in a manly way that wouldn’t disgust him. I wouldn’t know him to see him now, especially the far side of his face and body – especially if his mouth was closed.

Somebody might have to identify him at a morgue someday. I paid the famously cheap fare, hauled my bag over the turnstile and walked ahead to make the readying ferry, bobbing on the roiling ocean water, the warning horn blowing.

It had a calming effect on me. We shove off.

I stood with my upright, bag considerately between my legs, me should-to-shoulder packed tight with people, eyes down, mouths closed, affected a little by gravity – so different than my wild ride with a man almost too alive. Mannequins in storage.

The sun flashed off the great towers of lower Manhattan and the choppy waves and cool hissing mist crossed all our beholding silent faces. We rose and fell as this great dream came closer.

They all just barely noticed the guy with the horned-rims and flip flops with an army bag, involuntarily imagining what the journey was. I had El Dorado at my feet. Tomorrow I would be in Boston.

The Journey to Fearlessness by Jim Surkamp

(In this article I focus, for greater clarity, on just deaths by illness of an older person with blameless medical and personal support. Murders, drunk-driver deaths do have many, many other real issues beyond the death itself).

A death makes us face the frightening Unknown, which surrounds us in life and awaits us in Death.

Repeatedly face your deepest fears and they lose their sting. The most enslaving fears are of the Unknown, a painful death alone, being forgotten, and the horror that life includes. How do we accept life’s horrors with equanimity and grace?

The Dalai Lama, when asked why he could smile so much in a world full of famine and pain, smiled: “What do you suggest?”

The experienced and wise would also reply: “I have felt every fear I once feared. I am free.” They have conquered fear when they say: “Don’t sweat the small stuff and almost everything is the small stuff.” “All that matters in the end is that you have been well-loved and loved well;” and “You have to learn to take the good with the bad.” The Serenity Prayer is the very badge of earned fearlessness.

Ted Hughes, the now deceased poet laureate of England, mirrored my own struggle with the Angel of Darkness. I was young, with my mother dying, my father just back from Vietnam. I inched blindly toward knowledge:

“Water wanted to live. It went to the trees, they burned.
It came weeping back. They rotted. It came weeping back. Water wanted to live. It went
to
flowers. They crumpled. It came weeping back. It wanted to live. It
went to
the womb; it met blood. It came weeping back. It went to the womb.
It met
knife. It came weeping back. It went to the womb. It met maggot and
rotteness. It came weeping back. It wanted to die. It went through
the stone
door. It came weeping back. It went searching through all space for
nothingess. It came weeping back. It wanted to die. Till it had no
weeping
left. It lay at the bottom of all things. Utterly worn out, utterly
clear.”

Like Mister Kurtz in Joseph Conrad’s “The Heart of Darkness,” one goes
to the
heart of darkness, faces “the horror” and goes beyond it to personal
glory and
redemption – fear-free.

And nothing launches us on this journey for truth more surely than the
searing
blow of a loved one’s death. “Kindergarten Values” implode.

Editor and Dr. Charles Figley’s masterful two-volume “In the Wake of
Trauma,”
explores “the illusion of invulnerability” – the notion ingrained from
kindergarten and before that, if we are on time, cheerful, honest and
hard-working, then we are entitled to be happy.

Renown Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hahn scoffs. He says if you seek
happiness
on the outside, saying “IF I do this-or-that, THEN I will be happy” –
you will
not find happiness. “You must get in touch with the ultimate dimension
of your
being instead,” he says.

The “if/then” crowd are the Inexperienced; a death loss changes that.

Even C.S. Lewis appears to have sought to defang his fear of death by
trying
to render it a mere topic for discourse. When his beloved wife died,
he wrote
in “A Grief Observed” that he didn’t know grief is so much like fear.
Writing
about life and death to master and control them didn’t lessen his pain
when
all-conquering death exploded in his own home.

Ever illusion-less George Orwell, by contrast, wrote for the wise and
experienced: “Being human is being prepared to in the end be defeated
and
broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one’s
love upon
other human individuals.”

A conceited outlook based on entitlement deems misfortune as
punishment aimed
at the unworthy. The Inexperienced seem to need to assign blame to
prove the
world is just, rational, and controllable.
An Inexperienced widow or widower concludes their husband or wife died
because
someone didn’t do their job: the spouse didn’t do enough, the doctor
didn’t do
enough, or God didn’t do enough.

Obsessed and alarmed, they ask: “Why me?” Or play the never-ending
“If-Only”
game. Parents, especially mothers, of those who die young, easily do
“If-Only”
because of their many years of habitual fearing for their children’s
safety.
One woman in my support group blamed heself for her son’s murder in
Los
Angeles after he tried to stop a gang from stealing a truck. She said:
“I knew
something bad would happen the day I said goodbye to him at the
airport.” It
was just her general fear of the Unknown which she later reshaped into
a
lifetime supply of self-blame.

The Inexperienced can’t accept that like birth, death, in the most
important
ways, is as natural as a snowstorm and just as blind.
You have to think you are the center of the Universe to think tragedy
is
personally addressed to you.

Typically the Inexperienced soberly concludes: “If God lets this kind
of thing
happen, I don’t want that God.” Consider instead Etty Hillesum,
writing her
great work “An Interrupted Life,” as the Nazi SS approached her
apartment flat
in Amsterdam: “I have found that God is not accountable to us.”

We can drain this swamp of fear by meditating on the painful
simplicity of
death, that the only place our decisions have any dominion is the here
and
now, and that the only sanctuary we have is in our mind. But it
sometimes
needs to be fumigated.

We learn from the greatest people among us such as Mother Theresa, the
Dalai
Lama, and Thich Nhat Hahn. Each urges us to love and live, here and
now, not
sweating the small stuff.

Thich Nhat Hahn had been leading efforts to rebuild bombed villages
during the
Vietnam war. A village was leveled for the fourth time. He buried his
face in
his hands. To a concerned friend, he said “I am breathing on my
anger. I am
taking care of it.”

Mother Theresa dismisses “Why’s” and inaction: “People are
unreasonable,
illogical and self centered – Love them anyway. If you do good,
people will
accuse you of selfish ulterior motives, do good anyway. If you are
successful, you win false friends and true enemies – succeed anyway.
The good
you do today will be forgotten tomorrow – do good anyway. Honesty and
frankness make you vulnerable – be honest and frank anyway.”

The Griever of death focusses on each day as it comes, building a
greater
sense of control and dominion, fed by love and hope.

Keeping grief from panicking, running throughout the Universe for
reasons is
the first step. If we are willing to go “through the stone door,” time
takes
all remaining steps for us. And grief from death will relax into
wisdom.

“It went searching through all space for nothingness, till it had no
weeping
left. It lay at the bottom of all things. Utterly worn out, utterly
clear.”

Mastering fear is to accept the horror constructively making the
unknown
known, so it doesn’t become a wicked undertow to the sparkling and
turbulent
flow of life.

Birth of Wonder by Jim Surkamp with Ardyth Gilbertson and Shana Aisenberg (CC)

PART 1

EXCUSE ME? I WASN’T LOOKING AT YOU. I WAS LOOKING AT YOUR ICE CREAM CONE.

YOU MAKE ME LAUGH. I FALL THRU A CRACK IN HEAVEN.

I LOVE THE WAY YOU LISTEN. I BLOSSOM WHEN YOU LISTEN. YOU BECOME MY ROOT, WHILE I SOAR.

I NO LONGER LISTEN TO THE KING. HE’S AFRAID TO GET HIS ROOTS DIRTY. POOR KING.

HE WONT KNOW WHAT LIFE IS TILL IT’S TOO LATE, SOMEWHERE BEYOND THE JEWELS AND FOOLS.

LIFE IS A CONSTELLATION OF GOALS AND HEAVENS CHANGE, THAT WE MAY KNOW, THERE IS A HIGHER HEAVEN AND A HIGHER CONSTELLATION OF HIGHER GOALS BEHIND THESE HEAVENS, AND BEHIND THE HIGHER HEAVEN YET A HIGHER, HIGHER HEAVEN AND YET A HIGHER CONSTELLATION OF HIGHER GOALS!

INNOCENT BELIEVING IS JUST THAT – EVERYTHING. A PEBBLE FALLS FROM ON HIGH AND MAKES THE GREATEST RINGS. MY SIGNATURE NAME AND GIFT FOR YOU.

MY HEART REMEMBERS JUST WHAT I NEED.

NOW GET THIS:

I AM NOT THE WASHERWOMAN IN THE THEATER ANYMORE. THE EMPTY STAGE BEGS FOR ME. SO I SING AN ARIA! AAAAHHHHHHH. . .I THREW AWAY MY BUCKET AND MOP TOO!

LOVE ME, AND DESTROY MY GREED, SO I WILL SOAR AGAIN AND ENCIRCLE THE SUN.

LOVE IS THE FIRST AND LAST. LOVE IS BORN NOT MADE. LOVE IS ALL AROUND AND THERE FOR THE GIVING. LOVE YOU BE, LOVE YOU DO, DO-BE-DO-BE-DO-BE-DO.

IT’S SO SIMPLE NO WORDS CAN HOLD IT CAPTIVE!

WHEN I SURRENDER, I AM HEALED. FANCY THAT!

I HAVE TEARS OF MORAL PRAISE WHEN I FIND A DROP OF WATER STILL IN A DESERT OF INDIFFERENCE.

YOU AND I ARE TO TELL THE TRUTH THE YOUNG FEEL BUT CANNOT NAME.

PART 2

ITS SO SIMPLE NO WORDS CAN HOLD IT CAPTIVE RIGHT.

I DONT LIKE BIG, BIG DON’T SEE THE BEGININGS. BIG DON’T SEE THE TINY SEEDS BIG DON’T SEE LOVE IN THE WIND.

WANDERING MYSTERY, WANDERING POEM, FRUIT ON TREES, FALLING RAIN FEEDS FEEDS, WANDERING MYSTERY, WANDERING POEM.

(PAUSE IN MUSIC AND VOICE) MY SILVER THREADS ARE BROKEN. I AM GUIDED BY SUGGESTION I DONT ARGUE. WORDS – WORDS, SHMERDS

HEY! YOU JUST SMUDGED MY ARMOR! THAT HURT!

I GUESS I GROWL SOMETIMES, BUT I MEAN TO HUM. HMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

LIFE IS MOMENTS. HENCE SHARP TURNS. LIfE IS MOMENTUM, ALLLLL A-BOARD!!

A CHILD IN AN ENDLESS SUMMER; THERE I’LL ALWAYS BE.

I BLEND WITH THE SLOW, QUIET HUMBLE FLOW OF HUMANITY.

MY EX-FRIEND THE KING IS STARVING ON THE MOUNTAIN. OH WELL.

BEYOND THE RAINDROPS ON THE WINDOW PANE YOU CAN SEE A GREEN FOREST ON BLUE. . . FOR YOU.

SPINNING, SPINNING, SPINNING. . . MULTIPLYING FOREVER IN JOY. . . JOY IS TRUELY THE GREATEST THOUGHT, NAKED OF EXPLANATION. JOY – OH BOY!

JAKE, THE KING’S KID, BOUGHT STUFF WITH HIS BREAD, BUILT A BARRICADE AND WAITED FOR DEATH TO COME. . .TICK, TOCK, TICK, TOCK

DULLSVILLE, MELVILLE, . .DEADSVILLE.

SPONTANEITY IS THE OPEN GATE TO GOD’S PLACE.

MY HEART IS WHERE GOD DROPS A LOG ON THE FIRE.

MY WINDY THOUGHTS ARE SHAPING A CASTLE ON A BEACH SOMEWHERE.

NATURE BUILDS AND LEVELS EMPIRES ALL THE TIME, YOU KNOW.

YOUR CAGE OF THORNS MAKES ME REAL NERVOUS. I TAKE A DEEP BREATH. . . AHHHHH!

YOU ARE A SEA, AND WITH A PEN, A BRUSH, A SONG, A PRAYER, A LAUGH, OR A DANCE, YOU WILL FLOW ALL DAY AS SURE AS YOU ARE LIVING.

PART 3

I AM A PERFECT, STARRY HEAVEN, WATCHING ARMADAS OF MOOD, COME AND GO. . .MY LITTLE SHOW.

GIVE ME THE CLARITY OF YOUR BEING. LISTEN TO ME, RESPOND, LIVE WITH ME INSIDE THE BOUNDS OF CONVERSATION. . . BE BORN WITH ME. . .FORESEE MY EMERGING DOUBT. COMPLIMENT ME.

SPEAK TO MY HIGHER SELF, AND I’LL BRING YOUR UNKNOWN INTO THE LIGHT BEOFRE I LEAVE.

LOVE IS VAGUE, HUH?. . .NO. I SAID LOVE. . .YEH, LIFE IS VAGUE, TOO.

LIFE IS THE DANCER DISCOVERING HER FEET, THE PAINTER DISCOVERING THERE’S FRUIT AT THE END OF THE LIMB.

I’LL BRING YOUR UNKNOWN INTO THE LIGHT, BEFORE I LEAVE. I BRING YOUR UNKNOWN INTO THE LIGHT, THAT IT MAY BE KNOWN AND YOUR FEARS DIE.

YOUR GRIEF SHALL RELAX INTO WISDOM IN MY HOUSE, FRIEND; I HAVE SET A ROOM FOR YOU WHERE YOUR GRIEF CAN RELAX INTO WISDOM.

GOOD NIGHT, SWEET PRINCE. SLEEP WELL, SWEET PRINCESS.

NIGHT COMES. I AM YOUR STARRY CANOPY FOREVER, AND FOREVER, AND FOREVER.

FEAR NOT. LOVE ALWAYS.