Monday, May 31, 2010

Poem for Memorial Day and Virginia Renfaire

Dirge for Two Veterans
By Walt Whitman

The last sunbeam
Lightly falls from the finish'd Sabbath,
On the pavement here, and there beyond it is looking,
Down a new-made double grave.

Lo, the moon ascending,
Up from the east the silvery round moon,
Beautiful over the house-tops, ghastly, phantom moon,
Immense and silent moon.

I see a sad procession,
And I hear the sound of coming full-key'd bugles,
All the channels of the city streets they're flooding,
As with voices and with tears.

I hear the great drums pounding,
And the small drums steady whirring,
And every blow of the great convulsive drums,
Strikes me through and through.

For the son is brought with the father,
(In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell,
Two veterans son and father dropt together,
And the double grave awaits them.)

Now nearer blow the bugles,
And the drums strike more convulsive,
And the daylight o'er the pavement quite has faded,
And the strong dead-march enwraps me.

In the eastern sky up-buoying,
The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumin'd,
('Tis some mother's large transparent face,
In heaven brighter growing.)

O strong dead-march you please me!
O moon immense with your silvery face you soothe me!
O my soldiers twain! O my veterans passing to burial!
What I have I also give you.

The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music,
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
My heart gives you love.


We spent a very lovely albeit very, very warm Sunday at the Virginia Renaissance Faire with Dementordelta and her friend Lin and my friend Annmarie and her friend Cindy. I met Annmarie online in Star Trek: Voyager fandom almost 15 years ago and have met her in person several times in various cities when she wasn't deployed overseas, but now she is in a program at an army base near Richmond, so for the first time since I've known her, she and I are living in the same part of the U.S.! It was so hot that I only partially got into garb -- I wanted a shorter skirt and no corduroy anywhere -- but Delta and Annmarie both looked fabulous. The Virginia Renfaire is at Lake Anna Winery and is much smaller than the Maryland and Pennsylvania faires, with no jousting field or permanent buildings, and both times we've been there it's been beastly hot, so we tried to stay in the shade -- musicians on the Tavern Stage, greyhounds in their tent, plus merchants in the woods behind the main field where the food and games are set up. Sadly, the joust had been called off, and Cindy wasn't feeling very well, but we had Mediterranean food and got to hear the Dandy Pirates, whom we saw at the Pennsylvania Renfaire last year, and HoneyMeade, who were performing while we ate lunch, so it was a fun afternoon in addition to getting to see several friends.

The Queen greets a young admirer.

The bishop attempts to absolve my sins. (He gave Delta's friend a "Get Out Of Hell Free" card.)

Annmarie and Cindy in front of the archery range. My kids weren't in the mood for shooting today, but last time we all took turns.

It was a bit warm for Her Majesty's greyhounds, who visit the faire as representatives of a dog rescue group...

...but the Dandy Pirates gamely performed on several stages.

Sadly, the only photo I got of my family is overexposed...

...but here are myself and Dementordelta looking as overheated as we felt.

We ran late getting to the faire because the members of Rolling Thunder, the motorcyclists who ride in honor of the POW/MIAs, were heading into DC and the police had the Beltway closed in places so they could pass safely.

In the evening we watched the National Memorial Day Concert from the Capitol, which had some decent music, some bathos, some really moving tributes, and some raging cliches, just like last year's -- at least the quotient of Broadway performers was higher and of country music stars was lower. Then we watched the Doctor Who "Hungry Earth/Cold Blood" two-parter. Maybe I'm just overtired from the Renfaire, but it failed to move me, and -- SPOILERS -- I really like Rory and was unspoiled about his fate so it surprises me how little I felt beyond "oh it totally figures they'd go and do something like that." Maybe it's too soon after Amy's nervous breakdown/suicide at losing Rory in "Amy's Choice," or maybe it's my overall annoyance at the Giant Crack of Doom -- how are they going to threaten to end the universe next season? -- combined with my absolute certainty that Rory, like far, far too many sci-fi characters before him, will return before this season ends. (For all my irritation with "Children of Earth," I should note my gratitude that at least on Torchwood, the deaths have largely meant something because there's no hope of a reset button unless it's Jack Harkness -- his friends, his lover and his grandson are not coming back.) I am mildly curious how come Amy and Rory can't get near the light without getting wiped from history but the Doctor can stick his whole arm through.

Beyond all that, I intensely dislike the Doctor when he gets sanctimonious with people about what counts as "the best of humanity" -- he isn't human, and from what I've seen he isn't typical of Gallifreyans, so it pisses me off watching him sitting in judgment of desperate individuals and their weaknesses in a way that it never bothered me when Kirk started lecturing aliens on how they should treat each other or Picard started blathering about the stupidity of religion. I tolerated the attitude from Nine because that Doctor was so obviously in pain and talking to himself as much as anyone else, but didn't like it much when Ten did it, and Eleven still seems like such an upstart to me that I just want to tell him to shut up. I guess I am not the best humanity has to offer, but I don't much care because I stopped taking him and his agony seriously around the time Donna Noble left the TARDIS.

I have surprisingly little feeling, too, about the news that Guillermo del Toro won't be directing The Hobbit after all (do we think Jackson was micromanaging or what?). And I am happy for the Lady Terps, who won the national lacrosse title. Happy Memorial Day if you are celebrating, and best wishes to the families of veterans.

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