A look back…September 21, 2001

I am reposting an occasional older post that still seems relevant. This is an especially poignant look back, coming as it did right after 9/11.


The horror of September 11, 2001 has struck me deeply.  My heart is breaking for all those families and friends who lost loved ones.

The attack on the World Trade Center forced change into all our lives.  Some personal change is reflected here, in the look of this website that is visited by people from all over the globe.  This is, after all, the World Wide Web.  Wrapping myself in the flag gives me comfort, as it does to a lot of Americans right now.

I’ve posted a couple of poems that have been circulating around the Internet.  Some say “September 1, 1939” by W. H. Auden was prescient.  I don’t know about that, but it certainly is meaningful right now, as is “The House on the Hill” by Edwin Arlington Robinson. [Scroll down to read]

Some websites that may be of interest:

An Open Letter To He Who Hides Behind the Casket of Innocents from Randy Wayne White

Beautiful editorial from the Miami Herald:  “Bloodied but unbowed” [no longer available for free]

Dave Barry’s very touching column on this tragedy: Just for being Americans…

A point of view from a slightly different perspective:  An Afghan-American speaks

Nostradamus wrote some ambiguous, not especially good poetry in the 16th century, but he never predicted this catastrophe.  Read how and why that particular Internet rumor got started here:  False Prophecy

The NY Times, among other news organizations, is posting pictures and info about those still missing and is updated daily:  Among the Missing [thankfully no longer needed]

CNN has the official Lists of Victims

Donations: NY Firefighters Fund  American Red Cross  Salvation Army

For additional links on where to give and how to help, Yahoo has a pretty extensive list at:  Emergency Information

My escape is into books.

flag long

The House on the Hill
by Edwin Arlington Robinson

They are all gone away,
The house is shut and still,
There is nothing more to say.

Through broken walls and gray
The winds blow bleak and shrill;
They are all gone away. 

Nor is there one today
To speak them good or ill:
There is nothing more to say. 

Why is it then we stray
Around that shrunken sill?
They are all gone away. 

And our poor fancy-play
For them is wasted skill:
There is nothing more to say. 

There is ruin and decay
In the House on the Hill:
They are all gone away,

There is nothing more to say.


September 1, 1939
by Wystan Hugh Auden

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism’s face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
“I will be true to the wife,
I’ll concentrate more on my work,”
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

From Another Time by W. H. Auden, published by Random House. Copyright © 1940 W. H. Auden, renewed by The Estate of W. H. Auden.


One Response to A look back…September 21, 2001

  1. Thanks. Oh, and Randy Wayne White is one of my fiction influences. His (Doc Ford’s) pub on Ft. Myers Beach is a great stop.

%d bloggers like this: