[Milton-L] What have we become?
pluscachange at comcast.net
Tue Apr 17 03:16:30 EDT 2007
Carol Barton earlier today wrote most eloquently
and passionately of the horror at Virginia Tech,
and of several things that may be involved in it.
The center of Carol's post is this:
>My heart goes out to any and all of you who are
>grieving for the children and faculty members
>who lost their lives in Blacksburg today, as I am.
Like our author JM, we might find in grief a
reason to look to greater significancesand
thanks, Ryan Paul, for the passage from Lycidas.
Carol finds such in her assessment of the
amorality and perversion of social mores on
campuses, in gun control issues, and in security
practices that tend to total neglect in some things and overkill in others.
Carol concludes, in an echo of "Avenge, O Lord thy slaughter'd saints":
>God bless the slaughtered innocents, and comfort
>their families and those who were witness to this atrocity.
Is it too much to expect that people of immense
erudition and presumed sophistication, empathy,
and good will would respond in kind, and that
their own feelings would echo the sentiments
expressed, rather than fixating on minor points
such as "which God?" or go rambling off into a hinterland of generalizations?
. . .
I had to leave off this writing, and since then
the reasoned and reasonable posts from Jim Rovira
and others have come in like oil upon troubled waters.
Nobody has commented on Carol's extending of
sympathy to a set of folks not usually mentioned:
"those who were witness to this
atrocity." Hovering over heat vents and sleeping
in church doorways are many of those from Vietnam
or even Korea who fall into this category. Our
first attention rightly turns to the "slaughtered
innocents," but those traumatized must often make
do only with a little counseling.
. . . Their [the slaughtered] moans
The Vales redoubl'd to the Hills, and they
Those between the dying and the "Hills," however,
hear the "moans" up close and personal, and their
loss of peace, innocence, equilibrium may go
unnoticed. It serves, Milton says, as a warning
and a hope, that the ashes of the Piemontese . . .
. . . may grow
A hunderd-fold, who having learnt thy way
Early may fly the Babylonian wo.
In other words, I would hope that Virginia Tech
and the larger academic community unite in
helping the survivors turn their grief and horror
eventually to positive ends. This may not be the
most pertinent passage to quote, but I think
often of Adam and Eve's psalm of praise in Book
V, which opens with "These are thy glorious
works, Parent of good" (line 153) and after cataloguing them, conclude:
Hail universal Lord, be bounteous still
To give us onely good; and if the night
Have gatherd aught of evil or conceald,
Disperse it, as now light dispells the dark. (205-209)
I have used this as a blessing before holiday
meals, and unrealistic or impossible as it may
seem, I would hope the victims and the witnesses
of this and all less newsworthy crimes committed
this day be able to pray to the "universal Lord"
that light will dispel the dark.
"Awake, arise, or be forever fallen."
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