• QuickSilver commented on the blog post Can’t We Call this “Counter-Terrorism Preparedness”?

    2011-06-02 11:27:53View | Delete

    Emptywheel, long time no talk: I confess I’ve let my email lapse, and have not been anything like the regular reader of your blog I used to be (nor reader of ANY blog, having spent the last 1 1/2 years w/o easy Internet access). But thank you, thank you, thank you for your extraordinary industry… you and your work have meant so much to me. As you know, I’ve a longstanding interest in prophetic poetry, and thought you might appreciate the explicit reference to anthrax in “From Trollope’s Journal” [Winter 1861], the second-to-last poem in Elizabeth Bishop’s 1965 collection, QUESTIONS OF TRAVEL (a book which also contains “The Ballad of the Burglar of Babylon”, “Sandpiper”, “Filling Station”, and many other old favorites). Trollope was in Washington DC at the outbreak of the Civil War and offers a description of a forlorn scene which, at least in Miss Bishop’s reworking, was visible from Pennsylvania Avenue:

    [...] There all around me in the ugly mud,
    — hoof-pocked, uncultivated, — herds of cattle,
    numberless, wond’ring steers and oxen, stood:
    beef for the Army, after the next battle.
    Their legs were caked the color of dried blood;
    their horns were wreathed with fog. Poor, starving, dumb
    or loving creatures, never to chew the cud
    or fill their maws again! Th’effluvium
    made that damned anthrax on my forehead throb,
    I called a surgeon in, a young man, but,
    with a sore throat himself, he did his job.
    We talked about the War, and as he cut
    away, he croaked out, “Sir, I do declare
    everyone’s sick! The soldiers poison the air!”

    Those are just the last few lines, the whole poem isn’t much longer but of course is worth looking up. FWIW we do have the right President in Obama and I’m quite sure he would agree with my conviction, and yours, that there is no such thing as a closed case. Give my best to Jane! xxxxx as ever, QS