The Mind's I


I like to F but I'm single so I usually just M.
--Carrot Top(?)

Elaine from ScribeTribe sent me this link to a company that makes rubber stamps. This led me to the Sullivan Ballou Film Project website. I'd love to see this short inspired by the Sullivan Ballou letter. Art is inspired by other art. Lovely.

Mike and I are both iNTj. There is a website dedicated to analyzing relationships between different personality types. Interesting.

For people who have been following my posts, Steve chose Cool.

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November 27, 1998
Ashokan Farewell

Again, alas, Iko has forgotten a photograph. <sigh> But today, I am embedding a midi file that I discovered on the web of a favorite song, Ashokan Farewell. Never heard of it? The first time I encountered the piece was when I watched Ken Burn's Civil War series. It's a beautiful piece played on a fiddle and I would recommend the CD of Ken Burn's Civil War to everyone. Heck, I would recommend the PBS series The Civil War to anyone. It's a masterpiece, his best work that I've seen so far (with Frank Lloyd Wright a fascinating second. I didn't care much for Baseball and Lewis and Clarke was nifty but not a favorite).

How did I start thinking about Ashokan Farewell? Well, ScribeTribe started talking about great speeches and many of my favorite speeches and speech-makers were mentioned. My favorite speech is Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Just reading the speech brings tears to my eyes. Well, when someone mentioned that made me think of Ken Burn's Civil War and even mentioning the Civil War makes me think of Ashokan Farewell. The song is featured twice on the CD. The first time, it is just the piece, played beautifully by Jay Ungar. The second time the piece is featured, an actor reads aloud the letter of Sullivan Balou that he wrote to his wife, Sarah, during the war. It is the most beautiful love-letter I have ever read. I thought I'd just post it to the group with the instructions to read it slowly, outloud. I'm not often moved by love stories (I am the resident ScribeTribe anti-romantic), but this letter just nails me. I end up crying torrents just listening to it. I think that's what I like about it so much.

Ok, Constant Reader, I can hear you asking what about it moves me so much? His patriotism is beautiful. Being a naturalized citizen of the US, I am proud to be an American... that I had the priviledge of coming to the US to get my education here and have the same opportunities. This is the day after Thanksgiving and like I said yesterday, I've got a whole deal to be thankful for. I can sympathize with Sullivan. But I'm not sure if I can die for my country like Sullivan, and I admire him for that. He has something that I do not, and I am jealous.

I love how he describes his love for his wife. How he treasures her. How he says that if he is mortally wounded in battle, it will be her name that shall be his last words. He asks for forgiveness for every time he's hurt her. His last goodbyes are not sad but hopeful, which is what I'd like my death to be. Do not mourn my death, my friends, but celebrate my life. Celebrate the good things I've done... the friendships that we've shared. Do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again...

Here's Sullivan Ballou's letter that I posted to ScribeTribe. My instructions are the same. Read it aloud, slowly, succintly.

July 14, 1861
Camp Clark, Washington

My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days - perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more...

I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans on the triumph of the government and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and sufferings of the Revolution. And I am willing - perfectly willing - to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this government, and to pay that debt...

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me urresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield. The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And it is hard for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grown up to honorable manhood around us...

I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me -perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name...

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often times been! How gladly I would wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness...

But, O Sarah, if the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they love, I shall always be near you, in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights... always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again...

Sullivan Ballou

Ballou wrote the letter July 14, while awaiting orders that would take him to Manassas, where he and twenty-seven of his men would die one week later at the Battle of Bull Run.

"Ashokan Farewell" by Jay Unger
© Copyright 1983 by Swinging Door Music-BMI

© Copyright 1998, Eileene Coscolluela