Friday, October 23, 2015

With drums and with kettle-drums

From my mother's photo archive, a lament. . .
I probably should mention that our family's photographic record was large, 
jumbled, mostly unlabeled and not always of the best quality. 
An example is this mysterious, cracked and broken square black-and-white taken 
in a mysterious underground space. Note the ceiling beams and the bare lightbulb--
which are decor characteristics of cellar rec(reation) rooms in the 1950s.
The chairs say JAMES on the back; they were often borrowed
for special events from the James Funeral Home.
I can see my two sisters and my four brothers at slightly older ages than 
they were in 1953, when I went to faraway Arizona for college.
(Out of state tuition, entire academic year, University of Arizona, 1953, $300!)
So I am dating this event later, perhaps Christmas of 1956 or 1957.
Because the boys are dressed in Sunday-like clothes, it might be
a church event. I am thinking, though, because I see Carl Kaestle
(not a member of our church, the shorter boy in bright white shirt)
that this is likely the basement of our friends, the Paul Kaestles,
who had a Christmas Eve party every year. 
It looks like the children may soon be fed here.
Susan's teen-aged head is in front of the large white rectangle
on the right, with David at the edge of the photo next to her.
John (light shirt, dark pants) is the taller boy next to Carl Kaestle.
Baby sister Marjory Ann is at the far left under the crease in the photo.
Robert and then Richard are next to her and in front of three people
I have not yet identified.
So, Susan, David, John, can you help me here?
Does anyone remember this party??

Tonight's poem is also about the passage of time and long-ago events. 
It was written by Ezra Pound from notes and translations
given to him by Ernest Fennelossa's widow.
It was in Japanese characters based on the Chinese original,
so like an old, forgotten photo, it may only have incorrect echoes of the past
but Pound made something beautiful of it.

Lament of the Frontier Guard

By the North Gate, the wind blows full of sand,
Lonely from the beginning of time until now!
Trees fall, the grass goes yellow with autumn.
I climb the towers and towers
to watch out the barbarous land:
Desolate castle, the sky, the wide desert.
There is no wall left to this village.
Bones white with a thousand frosts,
High heaps, covered with trees and grass;
Who brought this to pass?
Who has brought the flaming imperial anger?
Who has brought the army with drums and with kettle-drums?
Barbarous kings.
A gracious spring, turned to blood-ravenous autumn,
A turmoil of wars-men, spread over the middle kingdom,
Three hundred and sixty thousand,
And sorrow, sorrow like rain.
Sorrow to go, and sorrow, sorrow returning,
Desolate, desolate fields,
And no children of warfare upon them,
No longer the men for offence and defence.
Ah, how shall you know the dreary sorrow at the North Gate,
With Rihoku’s name forgotten,
And we guardsmen fed to the tigers.

Ezra Pound 
Cathay, 1915) from the Chinese of Li Po

“Rihoku” is the Japanese version of a Chinese name, Li Mu, a general who defended 
the Chinese state of Zhao during the Warring States period in the 3rd century B.C.

The Voice That Is Great Within Us; 
American Poetry of the Twentieth Century
edited by Hayden Carruth, Bantam, 1970, page 83.

1 comment:

  1. In the 1940 US Census, I see:
    Francis Kaestle, Head, M, 34, Tennessee
    Regina Kaestle, Wife, F, 33, New York
    Paul Krueger Kaestle, Son, M, 2 New York
    Carl Kaestle, Son, M, 0, New York.

    I surmise, although I have no memories of these years, except what has been given to me by photos and home movies, that the older two boys would be Paul and Carl Kaestle. The smaller boy in the bright white shirt and the young woman could be a younger Kaestles. It is not uncommon for girls of this age to be of equal or greater height than a brother who is a year or two her senior.

    I have previously seen this picture or another from the same photo session and it has been identified as a Christmas photo in Kaestle's basement.

    The census shows that Dad's salary in 1939 was $3000. Only three families on First street made more. Mr Kaestle's salary was $3775. Nobody on his block made more!