Sunday, August 26, 2018

Grass of Parnassus

Grass of Parnasssus, or Bog-Star,   Parnassia asarifolia, Haywood County, NC, 8/23/18   

                   Grass of Parnassus

Pale star that by the lochs of Galloway,
   In wet green places ’twixt the depth and height
Dost keep thine hour while Autumn ebbs away,
   When now the moors have doffed the heather bright,
   Grass of Parnassusflower of my delight,
How gladly with the unpermitted bay
Garlands not mineand leaves that not decay
   How gladly would I twine thee if I might!
The bays are out of reach!  But far below
   The peaks forbidden of the Muses’ Hill,
Grass of Parnassusthy returning snow
   Between September and October chill
Doth speak to me of Autumns long ago,
   And these kind faces that are with me still.

p. 1
  - Andrew Lang, ca. 1888

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Silent Sam and Me

From The Abbeville Blog, by the Abbeville Institute:

Silent Sam and Me
By Ben Jones on Aug 22, 2018

In September of 1961, I left my job at a basket factory in Wilmington, North Carolina and hitch-hiked up to Chapel Hill to become a student there. I followed in the path of UNC’s very first student, a boy named Hinton James, who had famously walked those roads up from Pender County back in 1789. As befits the first student at the first State University, he did not come by carriage.

My last ride was in the cab of a well-weathered farm truck. The grizzled driver wished me well and let me out in the middle of town. “You’ll like it here,” he told me with pride. “My little grandbaby went here and she became a schoolteacher!”

I was pointed the way to Battle Dormitory which faced Franklin Street, Chapel Hill’s “main drag.” My room, 8 Battle, looked out over McCorkle Place, the “upper quad” of the campus.

It was from there, over the next two years, that I watched the changing of the seasons on the campus grounds, the blazing autumn hardwoods and those seductive dogwood and magnolia spring-times, not to mention the passing coeds with their skirts, far too long in those days.

I was told that Thomas Wolfe, the author of Look Homeward, Angel had lived in that room, next to that same window back in 1916. I could not believe my good fortune in having landed in this “Southern Part of Heaven.” Like Wolfe, I was overflowing with ideas and dreams and confusion. And like him I chased the elusive girls of the night and drank the last drop that was to be had.

The one constant outside that window, in every season, was the noble statue of “Silent Sam,” the Confederate soldier who stood vigilant watch over the campus. “Sam” represented those young students who had left the campus when “the War” came, and who went off to do their duty. It was said that UNC gave more students to the Southern Cause than any other school. It is “likely” true.

Just a few weeks after my arrival, I joined thousands of other students as we tramped through the campus to Kenan Stadium, to listen to a speech by the nation’s young President, John F. Kennedy, on the occasion of the University’s Founders Day. Then in his first year in office, JFK was in full form, at his handsome, youthful and charismatic best.

And here is how he dealt with the South’s past and the War Between the States. Here is what this liberal Democrat from Massachusetts said then of the Tar Heel State:

“There is, of course, no place in America where reason and firmness are more clearly pointed out than here in North Carolina. All Americans can profit from what happened in this State a century ago. It was this State, firmly fixed in the traditions of the South, which sought a way of reason in a troubled and dangerous world. Yet when the War came, North Carolina provided a fourth of all of the Confederate soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice in those years. And it won the right to the slogan, ‘First at Bethel. Farthest to the front at Gettysburg and Chickamauga. Last at Appomattox’.”

I was still a student at Chapel Hill when, a little over two years later, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. It had a profound effect upon me. He had asked at Chapel Hill, echoing Goethe, “Are you going to be a hammer or an anvil?” Within days I was marching and demonstrating in the Civil Rights Movement. It was my way of dealing with his death.

The “Movement” was dangerous and heady. In the next few months, I was sucker punched, shot at, threatened often, and spent more than a few nights in jail during the sit-ins.

In the end, the Public Accomodations Act settled the issue, but those heady times were always a point of pain and pride when we all reminisced about the “the Sixties.”

I had grown up in a railroad “section house” without electricity or indoor plumbing. The folks around us were in the same shape, except that they were all black. So I guess I felt I owed this to them, to those neighbors who got the short end of things.

That idealistic leap into political reality was the beginning of something else that was pushing to the front of my passions. During the summers of 1962 and 1963, I had a job on a work train clearing right-of-way along the railroads in the deep South. I loved it, every second of it. I began to realize that my Southerness was more than just a birthright. I came to believe that it was an honor bestowed upon me by my Maker. I still feel that way.

The period just after the Civil Rights Movement was critically important to the South. I remember how proud I was when a group of kids from Charlotte went up to Boston during that city’s violent busing crisis to show the kids up there how to get along with one another. It seemed to me that left to ourselves, outside of any political climate, Southerners would get along as Southerners. For we had always shared a culture, that whole cultural menu of language and weather and food and music and work and laughter. We have far more in common than that which would separate us. That shared culture is being forgotten in these radical times.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. never contemplated the destruction of historic monuments or the removal of historic symbols. His entire thrust, reiterated again and again, was for Southern white and blacks to “dine together at the table of brotherhood.” He longed for the “integration” of our different “histories” as essential to our common future. A simple acceptance of the past is all that is necessary. With that comes forgiveness. It may not be easy, but it is necessary.

Fifty plus years ago I would look out at Silent Sam from my window in Battle Dorm and try to imagine what it must have been like to have gone off to war in those days. I thought of Sam as maybe a youth from somewhere like Tarboro or Clinton or Hickory. He was of good heart, I figured, maybe 18 or 19, a bit thin, a bit afraid. He was of that tough North Carolina stock, that “salt of the earth” fellow whose character is reflected in the State’s motto: “Esse Quam Videre.” To be rather than to seem.

He could have been my great great Uncle Gabriel Jacobs, who was killed at Fraysor’s Farm pursuing McClellan in his escape to the river. He was 21. He, in turn, was named for his great great great grandfather Gabriel Jacobs, a slave who was freed by his master John Custis in Northhampton County, Virginia in 1695.

Our South is a land of many secrets and many truths.

The radical trash who tore down Silent Sam and those academic idiots who enable them are not worthy to walk on the same ground as Gabriel Jacobs. Silent Sam will rise again, and we, not they, shall overcome.

Friday, August 10, 2018



You must remember this when I am gone,
And tell your sons — for you will have tall sons.
And times will come when answers will not wait.
Remember this: if ever defeat is black
Upon your eyelids, go to the wilderness
In the dread last of trouble, for your foe
Tangles there, more than you, and paths are strange
To him, that are your paths, in the wilderness,
And were your fathers’ paths, and once were mine.

You must remember this, and mark it well
As I have told it — what my eyes have seen
And where my feet have walked beyond forgetting.
But tell it not often, tell it only at last
When your sons know what blood runs in their veins.
And when the danger comes, as come it will,
Go as your fathers went with woodsman’s eyes
Uncursed, unflinching, studying only the path.

First, what you cannot carry, burn or hide.
Leave nothing here for him to take or eat
Bury, perhaps, what you can surely find
If good chance ever bring you back again.
Level the crops. Take only what you need :
A little corn for an ash-cake, a little
Side-meat for your three days’ wilderness ride.
Horses for your women and your children.
And one to lead, if you should have that many.
Then go. At once. Do not wait until
You see his great dust rising in the valley.
Then it will be too late.
Go when you hear that he has crossed Will’s Ford.
Others will know and pass the word to you —
A tap on the blinds, a hoot-owl’s cry at dusk.

Do not look back.  You can see your roof afire
When you reach high ground. Yet do not look.
Do not turn. Do not look back.
Go further on. Go high. Go deep.

The line of this rail-fence east across the old-fields
Leads to the cane-bottoms. Back of that,
A white-oak tree beside a spring, the one
Chopped with three blazes on the hillward side.
There pick up the trail. I think it was
A buffalo path once or an Indian road.
You follow it three days along the ridge
Until your reach the spruce woods. Then a cliff
Breaks, where the trees are thickest, and you look
Into a cove, and right across, Chilhowee
Is suddenly there, and you are home at last
Sweet springs of mountain water in that cove
Run always. Deer and wild turkey range.
Your kin, knowing the way, long there before you
Will have good fires and kettles on to boil,
Bough-shelters reared and thick beds of balsam.
There in tall timber you will be as free
As were your fathers once when Tryon raged
In Carolina hunting Regulators,
Or Tarleton rode to hang the old-time Whigs.
Some tell how in that valley young Sam Houston
Lived long ago with his brother, Oo-loo-te-ka,
Reading Homer among the Cherokee;
And others say a Spaniard may have found it
Far from De Soto’s wandering turned aside.
And left his legend on a boulder there.
And some that this was a sacred place to all
Old Indian tribes before the Cherokee
Came to our eastern mountains, Men have found
Images carved in bird-shapes there and faces
Moulded into the great kind look of gods.
These old tales are like prayers. I only know
This is the secret refuge of our race
Told only from a father to his son,
A trust laid on your lips, as though a vow
To generations past and yet to come.
There, from the bluffs above, you may at last
Look back to all you left, and trace
His dust and flame, and plan your harrying
If you would gnaw his ravaging flank, or smite
Him in his glut among the smouldering ricks.
Or else, forgetting ruin, you may lie
On sweet grass by a mountain stream, to watch
The last wild eagle soar or the last raven
Cherish his brood within their rocky nest.
Or see, when mountain shadows first grow long.
The last enchanted white deer come to drink.

-Donald Davidson, 1893-1968

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Rose Pink

Rose Pink, Sabatia angularis, observed July 30, 2018 at site in Cowee Mountains, Nantahala National Forest, near Cullowhee, North Carolina