Monday, June 11, 2018

Hilton Head Island: C. S. Forester and Sara Teasdale

        A long, long time ago when I was young I read all eleven of C. S. Forester’s Hornblower novels twice and several of his other novels as well.  He was a very good and entertaining writer.
        I don’t suppose I have thought much about him since until a few weeks ago when his novel THE GENERAL was one of the offerings at BookBub.  
        The officer of the title is Lieutenant-General Sir Herbert Curzon who rose to his rank early in WWI and commanded more than 100,000 men up to the Battle of the Somme in 1916.  
        I have written somewhere that soldiers often die not for their cause but because of the egos and stupidity of generals and politicians.
        THE GENERAL provides the best explanation I have ever read of how Great Britain’s officer caste killed so many men futilely.
        After reading it, I bought two more of Forester’s novels.  THE GUN, which I have read before, set in Spain during the Napoleonic Wars; and THE GOOD SHEPHERD, about a convoy crossing the North Atlantic during WWII.


        At least one of you has viewed ALBATROSS. Two counting Carol.  Three counting me.
        The film is part of The Midway Project, named after the Pacific Ocean atoll, once significant during WWII and now the nesting place for millions of birds.
        I read a book titled ALBATROSS a few years ago that must also be part of the project, so I knew what to expect.
        The film is both beautiful and tragic.  The beauty is in the birds themselves and the inspired and sometimes very clever photography.  The tragic in the corpses of dead birds cut open to reveal the almost unbelievable amount of plastic inside them.  Often dozens of pieces in a single bird.  One had both a disposable cigarette lighter and a toothbrush in it.
        David, the one of you I know viewed the film, after doing so sent me a poem by Sara Teasdale.

There Will Come Soft Rains

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white, 

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone
        I must confess that I did not know of Sara Teasdale, so I googled and learned that she was born in Saint Louis, as was I, and wrote another fine poem often connected with her suicide that reminds me of parts of two I wrote long ago.
        Those two were enough for me to buy a Kindle edition of her collected works for $0.99.
        Sometimes you do get something for nothing.  Or almost.  But you already know that.