Forever Flowing, by Vasily Grossman – (1970) 1986 [Christopher Zacharow]

There is nothing more difficult than to be a stepson of time;
there is no heavier fate than to live in an age that is not your own. 
Time loves only those it has given birth to itself:
its own children, its own heroes, its own labourers.
Never can it come to love the children of a past age,
and more than a woman can love the heroes of a past age,
or a stepmother love the children of another woman.

forever-flowing-vasily-grossman-1986-christopher-zacharowAnd so he asked: “I was right, wasn’t I?”
Lyudmilla shook her head.  Decades of intimacy can also divide people.
‘Lyuda,’ said Viktor humbly,
‘people who are in the right often don’t know how to behave. 
They lose their tempers and swear. 
They act tactlessly and intolerantly. 
Usually they get blamed for everything that goes wrong at home and at work. 
While those who are in the wrong, those who hurt others,
always know how to behave. 
They act calmly, logically and tactfully – and appear to be in the right.’

grossman-vasily-forever-flowing067_edited-2Why had his life been so hard?
He had not preached nor had he taught –
he had remained exactly what he had been from his birth:
a human being.
The slope of the mountain opened before him.
From behind the pass the peaks of the oak trees showed.
In his childhood, he had gone there into the forest twilight,
and searched out the remnants of the vanished life of the Circassians –
the fruit trees gone wild,
the traces of the fences around their obliterated houses.
Perhaps his own home was still standing there just as changelessly
as the streets and the stream seemed changeless.
Here was one more bend of the road.
For a moment, it seemed to him as if an impossibly bright light,
brighter than any he had ever seen in his life,
had flooded the earth.
A few steps more and in this light he would see that home,
and his mother would come out to meet him, her prodigal son,
and he would kneel down before her,
and her young and beautiful hands would lie upon his gray,
balding head.
He saw the thickets of thorns and hops.
There was nothing left of the house nor of the well –
only a few stones that shone white in the dusty grass,
burned by the sun.
He stood there – gray, bent, and changeless.

(1955-1963)

 

The Bridge of San Luis Rey, by Thornton Wilder [Mary Drevenstedt]

The Bridge of San Luis Rey - 00 1 Thornton Wilder - 1967The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Washington Square Press Edition, 1967

The Bridge of San Luis Rey - 00 0 - Thornton Wilder - 1927 (Amy Drevenstedt)The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Grosset & Dunlap, First Edition, 1927

The Bridge of San Luis Rey - 01 - Frontspiece (Drevenstedt)(Frontspiece)

From all this saddening data

Brother Juniper contrived an index for each peasant.

He added up the total for victims

and compared it with the total for survivors,

to discover that the dead were five times more worth saving.

 

The Bridge of San Luis Rey - 37 - Marquesa de Montemayor (Drevenstedt)Marquesa de Montemayor (37)

The Bridge of San Luis Rey - 65 - Marquesa de Montemayor (Drevenstedt)Marquesa de Montemayor (65)

The Bridge of San Luis Rey - 77 - Marquesa de Montemayor (Drevenstedt)Marquesa de Montemayor (77)

It looked almost as though the pestilence had been directed

against the really valuable people in the village of Puerto.

 

The Bridge of San Luis Rey - 86 - Marquesa de Montemayor (Drevenstedt)Marquesa de Montemayor (86)

The Bridge of San Luis Rey - 91 - Esteban (Drevenstedt)Esteban (91)

The Bridge of San Luis Rey - 113 - Esteban (Drevenstedt)Esteban (113)

And on that afternoon

Brother Juniper took a walk along the edge of the Pacific.

He tore up his findings and cast them into the waves;

he gazed for an hour upon the great clouds of pearl

that hang forever upon the horizon of that sea,

and extracted from their beauty a resignation

that he did not permit his reason to examine.

 

The Bridge of San Luis Rey - 149 - Uncle Pio (Drevenstedt)Uncle Pio (149)

The Bridge of San Luis Rey - 173 - Esteban (Drevenstedt)Esteban (173)

The Bridge of San Luis Rey - 205 - Uncle Pio (Drevenstedt)Uncle Pio (205)

The discrepancy between faith and the facts

is greater than is generally assumed.

 

The Bridge of San Luis Rey - 221 - Perhaps an Intention (Drevenstedt)Perhaps an Intention (221)

Heaven’s My Destination, by Thornton Wilder – 1934, 1960 [Unknown Artist]

“It seems to me I live.”

heavens-my-destination-thornton-wilder-1960-henry-koerner_edited-1“Now listen!  Listen to me!” she said, emphatically. 
“You make me sick. 
Where do they get yuh, your the’ries and your ideas? 
Nowhere! 
Live, kid, – live! 
What’d become of all of us sons-of-bitches,
if we stopped to argue out every step we took? 
Stick down to earth.”
Brush looked at her with furrowed brow and said in a low voice,

“It seems to me I live.”

* * * * * * * * * *

George Brush is my name;
America’s my nation;
Ludington’s my dwelling place
And Heaven’s my destination.

(Doggerel which children of the Middle West were accustomed to write in their schoolbooks.)