angels literature quotations

American Civil War Reprise

This follows from my recent post of February 8th…

Sherman’s memoirs are the subjects and facts of history as it happened – the affair of generals and presidents although lesser mortals are recorded and considered also. But please allow me to record some views from more of a social history angle. I do so in the form of quotations from a book containing the writings of Walt Whitman who valiantly worked in the army hospitals looking after war casualties. Here are a few quotations which convey the reality of what I consider to be the first modern war. Modern in terms of use of technology and of public relations. A war that created a nation/society that still rules us in terms of power of suggestion – some weird mixture of Silicon Valley and Hollywood.

Here is a case of a soldier I found among the crowded cots in the Patent-office. He likes to have some one to talk to, and we will listen to him. He got badly hit in his leg and side at Fredericksburgh that eventful Saturday, 13th of December. He lay the succeeding two days and nights helpless on the field, between the city and those grim terraces of batteries; his company and regiment had been compell’d to leave him to his fate. To make matters worse, it happen’d he lay with his head slightly down hill, and could not help himself. At the end of some fifty hours he was brought off, with other wounded, under a flag of truce. I ask him how the rebels treated him as he lay during those two days and nights within reach of them—whether they came to him—whether they abused him? He answers that several of the rebels, soldiers and others, came to him at one time and another. A couple of them, who were together, spoke roughly and sarcastically, but nothing worse. One middle-aged man, however, who seem’d to be moving around the field, among the dead and wounded, for benevolent purposes, came to him in a way he will never forget; treated our soldier kindly, bound up his wounds, cheer’d him, gave him a couple of biscuits and a drink of whiskey and water; asked him if he could eat some beef. This good secesh, however, did not change our soldier’s position, for it might have caused the blood to burst from the wounds, clotted and stagnated. Our soldier is from Pennsylvania; has had a pretty severe time; the wounds proved to be bad ones. But he retains a good heart, and is at present on the gain. (It is not uncommon for the men to remain on the field this way, one, two, or even four or five days.)

Wednesday, February 4th.—Visited Armory-square hospital, went pretty thoroughly through wards E and D. Supplied paper and envelopes to all who wish’d—as usual, found plenty of men who needed those articles. Wrote letters. Saw and talk’d with two or three members of the Brooklyn 14th regt. A poor fellow in ward D, with a fearful wound in a fearful condition, was having some loose splinters of bone taken from the neighborhood of the wound. The operation was long, and one of great pain—yet, after it was well commenced, the soldier bore it in silence. He sat up, propp’d—was much wasted—had lain a long time quiet in one position (not for days only but weeks,) a bloodless, brown-skinn’d face, with eyes full of determination—belong’d to a New York regiment. There was an unusual cluster of surgeons, medical cadets, nurses, &c., around his bed—I thought the whole thing was done with tenderness, and done well. In one case, the wife sat by the side of her husband, his sickness typhoid fever, pretty bad. In another, by the side of her son, a mother—she told me she had seven children, and this was the youngest. (A fine, kind, healthy, gentle mother, good-looking, not very old, with a cap on her head, and dress’d like home—what a charm it gave to the whole ward.) I liked the woman nurse in ward E—I noticed how she sat a long time by a poor fellow who just had, that morning, in addition to his other sickness, bad hemorrhage—she gently assisted him, reliev’d him of the blood, holding a cloth to his mouth, as he coughed it up—he was so weak he could only just turn his head over on the pillow.

May ’63.—As I write this, the wounded have begun to arrive from Hooker’s command from bloody Chancellorsville. I was down among the first arrivals. The men in charge told me the bad cases were yet to come. If that is so I pity them, for these are bad enough. You ought to see the scene of the wounded arriving at the landing here at the foot of Sixth street, at night. Two boat loads came about half-past seven last night. A little after eight it rain’d a long and violent shower. The pale, helpless soldiers had been debark’d, and lay around on the wharf and neighborhood anywhere. The rain was, probably, grateful to them; at any rate they were exposed to it. The few torches light up the spectacle. All around—on the wharf, on the ground, out on side places—the men are lying on blankets, old quilts, &c., with bloody rags bound round heads, arms, and legs. The attendants are few, and at night few outsiders also—only a few hard-work’d transportation men and drivers. (The wounded are getting to be common, and people grow callous.) The men, whatever their condition, lie there, and patiently wait till their turn comes to be taken up. Near by, the ambulances are now arriving in clusters, and one after another is call’d to back up and take its load. Extreme cases are sent off on stretchers. The men generally make little or no ado, whatever their sufferings. A few groans that cannot be suppress’d, and occasionally a scream of pain as they lift a man into the ambulance. To-day, as I write, hundreds more are expected, and to-morrow and the next day more, and so on for many days. Quite often they arrive at the rate of 1000 a day.

Oh you who philosophize…

angels music quotations


Here’s something I recorded on Christmas Day this year. A 5 minute guitar improvisation looped. It’s my final comment on the year but tells us nothing new.

I happen to be reading a book Lives of Roman Christian Women at the moment. For my seasonal offering this year here is the prayer of a remarkable woman, Macrina, which comes from the day of her death in about 380 CE.

You O Lord have freed us from the fear of death
You have made the end of this life to be the beginning of our true life.
You allow our bodies to rest for a time in sleep and wake us up again at the last trumpet.
You have given in trust to the earth our earthly bodies which you have shaped with your own hand.
You have restored what you have given, transforming what is mortal and shapeless in us by means of immortality and beauty.
You have redeemed us from the curse of the law and from sin, becoming both for us.
You have crushed the heads of the dragon which seized us in its jaws, dragging us through the yawning gulf of disobedience.
You have prepared the way for the resurrection, smashing down the gates of hell, and have destroyed the one who had power over death.
You have given as a token to those who fear you the sign of the holy cross so that we can destroy the enemy and bring stability to our lives.
God eternal, at whom I threw myself from the moment I left my mother’s womb.
You whom my soul has loved with all its strength, you to whom I dedicated my flesh and my soul from my youth until this moment, give me as companion a bright angel who will take me by the hand and lead me to the place of refreshment where flows the water of repose in the bosom of the holy fathers.
You have cut through the flame of the fiery sword and allowed the man who was crucified with you and who threw himself on your mercy to enter paradise.
Remember me, too, in your kingdom when I am crucified with you, I who out of fear of you have nailed down my flesh and have feared your judgements.
Do not let the terrifying chasm separate me from your chosen ones.
Do not let the jealous one block my way.
Do not let my sin be revealed before your eyes, if I have sinned in word or deed or thought, led astray by the weakness of my nature.
You who have power on earth to forgive sins, forgive me so that I may draw breath.
Grant that I may come into your presence when I shed my body and that my soul, holy and without blemish, will be received into your hands like incense before your face.

angels birds fire insects literature music nonsense sea spider trees

mr knight

I am halfway or more through my new album which I won’t name yet, but I thought I’d do a quick creature head count.

1st song

a flesh hound (whatever that is)

2nd song

another hound (seems to be a bit of a theme – not intended)

3rd song

red wolf
mountain lion

4th song


5th song


6th song

tsetse fly

7th song


8th song


9th song


Eventually I’ll do a whole thesaurus of the animals, birds, fish etc. that populate the world of my song lyrics, not to mention the trees, flowers and assorted inanimate objects. When I am ill and lie abed with 2 fat wishes I’ll be fed and let the leaden moments pass each choosing singly their own path.

Instead of a basic guitar/bass/drums core the new songs are underpinned simply by 2 acoustic guitars. There is a 10th song which won’t be on the album but is a new version of an old song and this moves matters in a further fish like direction. Everton Hartley as always is the 2nd guitarist. We also recorded a dozen or so minutes of the instrumental music that we play together under the name Ashinosya. Here’s an excerpt from that to give you a flavour of the 2 guitars by themselves.


angels film literature quotations


I recently finished reading Memoirs of a Revolutionist by Peter Kropotkin – a superb book (especially first two thirds) which I heartily recommend. Kropotkin himself comes over as a man of genius but there are many other characters that appear in the narrative who were obviously extraordinary people and deserve to be more than historical footnotes.

One of the most striking is Sofiya Peróvskaya, who was hanged in 1881 for her part in the assassination of Tsar Alexander II. In Kropotkin’s words

The letter she wrote to her mother a few hours before she went to the scaffold is one of the best expressions of a loving soul that a woman’s heart ever dictated.

Here is a translation of the letter that I managed to find on the internet.

Mother, mother! Beloved, beloved one! If you only knew how cruelly I suffer at the thought of the sorrow and torture I have caused you, dearest! I beg and beseech you not to rack your tender heart for my sake. Spare yourself and think of all those who are round you at home, and who love you no less than I do, and need you constantly; and who, more than I, are entitled to your love and affection. Spare yourself too, for the sake of me, who would be so happy if only the agonising thought of the sorrow I have caused you did not torture me so unspeakably. Sorrow not over my fate which I created for myself, as you know, at the strict behest of my conscience. You know that I could not have acted differently, that I was obliged to do what my heart ordered, that I had to go and leave you, beloved mother, when my country called me. Do not think that the death that inevitably awaits me has any terror for my soul. That which has happened is only, you know, what I have been expecting every day, every hour, during all those years, and what sooner or later, must overtake me and my friends. Soon in the course of a few days I must die for the cause, for the idea, for which I devoted my life and all the powers of my soul and body. How happy I should be then, dearest, beloved! Once more I beseech you not to mourn for me. You are well aware how ineffably I love you. I have always, always loved you. By this love I conjure you to forgive your Sonya! Again and again I kiss your beloved hands, and on my knees, thank you for all you have given me during every moment of my life. On my knees I beseech you to bear to all the dear ones at home my last loving greetings! Tomorrow I shall stand once more in the presence of my judges; probably for the last time. But my clothes are so shabby and I wanted to tidy myself up a bit. Buy and send me, dearest mama, a little white collar and a pair of simple loose sleeves with links. Perhaps it will be vouchsafed us once again to meet. Until then, farewell! Do not forget my last fervent prayer, my last thought: forgive me and do not bewail me.

A 1967 Russian film directed by Lev Arnshtam dramatised her life. Dmitri Shostakovich wrote the score. If you’d like to watch it, here it is. No subtitles though.

angels literature quotations

Gutenberg 2

The first thing I ever downloaded from Gutenberg (see first paragraph of this earlier post for brief introduction) was, I believe, Letters of George Borrow to the British & Foreign Bible Society. Probably because I was reading a bit of Borrow at the time. I have read all of his books (not his translations) several times and they hold a certain fascination for me. Links to all of them on Gutenberg are at the end of this post. Personally I think Lavengro and Romany Rye should always be published together as they are basically one story. Wild Wales is a wonderful evocation of many of the outstanding bards of that land. My personal favourite is Dafyyd ap Gwilym, but then I hardly know any of the rest so what do I etc… The Bible in Spain though probably tells the tale of the most outlandish adventures where ever a guardian angel guarded a soldier of the cross. Some additions to this work can be found in The Zincali.

Anyway getting back to the letters – I still haven’t read them through in their entirety but this selection from an early letter relates to an incident that happened during a voyage at sea between England (presumably) and Portugal in the autumn of 1835. Here I quote,

On the morning of the tenth we found
ourselves about two leagues from the coast of Galicia, whose lofty
mountains gilded by the rising sun presented a magnificent appearance.
We soon passed Cape Finisterre, and standing farther out to sea speedily
lost sight of land. On the morning of the eleventh the sea was very
rough, and a most remarkable circumstance occurred. I was on the
forecastle, discoursing with two of the sailors, [and] one of them who
had just left his hammock told me that he had had a most disagreeable
dream, for, said he, pointing up to the mast, ‘I dreamt that I fell into
the sea from off the cross-trees.’ He was heard to say this by several
of the crew besides myself. A moment after, the captain of the vessel,
perceiving that the squall was increasing, ordered the topsails to be
taken in, whereupon this man with several others instantly ran up aloft.
The yard was presently loosened, and in the act of being hauled down,
when a violent gust of wind whirled it round with violence, and a man was
struck down from the cross-trees into the sea, which was raging and
tumbling below. In a few moments he emerged, and I saw his head
distinctly on the crest of a wave, and I recognised in the unfortunate
man the sailor who shortly before had been relating his dream. I shall
never forget the look of agony he cast us whilst the ship hurried past
him. The alarm was given, and in a moment everything was in confusion.
It was at least two minutes before the vessel was stopped, and the man
was left a considerable way behind, but I still kept my eye upon him, and
could perceive that he was struggling gallantly with the waves. A boat
was at length lowered, but the rudder unfortunately was not at hand, and
only two oars could be procured, with which the men who manned her could
make but little progress in the tremendous sea; however, they did their
best, and had arrived within ten yards of the man who had continued
struggling for his life, when I lost sight of him, and the men on their
return said that they saw him below the waters at glimpses, sinking
deeper and deeper, his arms stretched out and his body to all appearance
stiff, but they found it impossible to save him. Presently afterwards
the sea, as if satisfied with the prey it had received, became
comparatively calm, and the squall subsided. The poor fellow who was
drowned in this singular manner was a fine young man, twenty-seven years
of age, the only son of a widowed mother. He was the best sailor on
board, and beloved by every one who was acquainted with him. The event
occurred on the 11th of November 1835, the vessel was the ‘London
Merchant’ Steamship, commanded by Captain Whittingham. Wonderful indeed
are the ways of Providence.

If this story has anything to teach us surely it is that if you have a similar dream do not believe it is cowardice to refuse to go aloft when duty has called. It is a curious account and one that could prove to be a puzzle for a little while longer.

Maybe death is some sort of freedom, or an escaping from, an enlarged cavity…

The last book on the list is called Isopel Berners. I think though I have not delved exhaustingly that this is a selection from Lavengro and possibly from Romany Rye also. Whatever Isopel Berners is in my opinion the greatest female character of British Literature. Better than anything by Wells or Shaw. Ok the greatest female character of British Literature since some of Shakespeare’s heroines.

Incidentally I have given no link to any Borrow websites, not even Wikipedia, because I feel none are worthy to be linked to. Poor show.

FInally, for no particular reason, here is a song of mine which is called Wound. This is the as,hem,syrup version of the song.


Works by Borrow.

Wild Wales
Romany Rye
The Bible In Spain
The Zincali
Isopel Berners

angels quotations


Moreover, the state of little children excels the state of the rest in that they are in innocence, and evil has not yet been rooted in them by actual life; and innocence is such that all things of heaven can be implanted therein, for it is a receptacle of the truth of faith and of the good of love. The state of little children in the other life surpasses their state in the world, for they are not clothed with an earthly body, but with one like that of an angel. The earthly body is in itself gross, and receives its first sensations and motions not from the inner or spiritual world, but from the outer or natural world.

Emanuel Swedenborg

People live through such pain only once; pain comes again, but it finds a tougher surface.

Willa Cather

angels music spider

angel of death

here an image of before-mentioned angel of death. not so frightening really.

and while on the same theme here’s a live recording of velvet underground playing a strange version of black angel death song