Feb. 13, 2009

Drumming Behind You in the High School Band

by William Trowbridge

Rehearsing in street clothes after school,
we measured off the football field
in the spice and chill of early fall.
Through roll-off, counterpoint, and turn,
by the grunt and pop of blocking drill,
I marked the cadence of switching hips
no martial air could ever hold.
How left was left, how right was right!
We had a rhythm all our own
and made them march to it, slowing "The Stars
and Stripes Forever" as the sun stretched
our shadows toward the rising moon
and my heart kept stepping on my heels.

"Drumming Behind You in the High School Band" by William Trowbridge, from Enter Dark Stranger. © University of Arkansas Press, 1989. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the week of Valentine's Day, when we are thinking about love affairs, real and fictional.

On this day in 1779, Abigail Adams sent a letter to France, to her husband, John Adams, who was there serving as an ambassador for the newly formed United States.

John Adams had left for France exactly one year before Abigail wrote a letter that begins:

My Dearest Friend          Febry. 13. 1779
     This is the Anniversary of a very melancholy Day to me, it rose upon me this morning with the recollection of Scenes too tender to Name. — Your own Sensibility will supply your Memory and dictate to your pen a kind remembrance of those dear connections to whom you waved an adieu, whilst the full Heart and weeping Eye followed your foot steps till intervening objects obstructed the Sight.

     This Anniversary shall ever be more particularly Devoted to my Friend till the happy Day arrives that shall give him back to me again. Heaven grant that it may not be far distant, and that the blessings which he has so unweariedly and constantly sought after may crown his Labours and bless his country.

From 1788 to 1798, John Adams was in Europe, with only occasional visits home to see his family. Abigail stayed home, ran the family farm, raised their children, and wrote her husband many letters.

One of the most beloved love stories in fiction is William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet, about young lovers struggling to overcome their families' hatred of each other. Juliet is 13 years old, a member of the Capulet family, and Romeo, slightly older, is part of the Montague family. They live in Verona, Italy, where the Capulets and the Montagues are sworn enemies.

Romeo sneaks into a costume ball hosted by the Capulets, and there he meets young Juliet, and they fall madly in love. He sneaks up to her balcony, and they decide to get married the next day. They are helped by the kindly Friar Laurence, who hopes that the lovers' marriage will help end the violence between the families. But things quickly fall apart, and both lovers die at the end of the play.

There are some very famous lines in Romeo and Juliet:

"But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?/It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!"

"Parting is such sweet sorrow."

Another great love story is Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence, (books by this author) . It's the story of Connie Chatterley, a 23-year-old woman who marries an aristocrat, Clifford Chatterley. They are married for just a month before Clifford leaves to fight in WWI, and he returns paralyzed from the waist down, impotent and confined to a wheelchair.

Then Lady Chatterley meets Oliver Mellors, the gamekeeper for the estate. Oliver is handsome, and she admires his simple life in the woods. They fall in love, and she becomes pregnant with his child. Mellors' wife finds out and tells everyone, and there is a huge scandal. Mellors is fired as gamekeeper, and he files for divorce. But Lord Chatterley refuses to divorce his wife. At the end of the novel, the lovers are separated, Oliver on a farm waiting for his divorce to come through and Connie living with her sister, not sure what will happen.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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