Ralph honored me when he asked me to join this transmogrified blog. I hope that what I say here sheds more light than heat. That has been one of my main goals in all my online postings.
However, as I am sure contemporary politics will occasionally provoke me to postings better left imagined, I ask your forgiveness in advance.
To begin, I'm going to ignore the interpretation of history. Instead I am going to quote part of a poem that has long haunted me. If it is not about history, is certainly about memory and time. (I would post the whole poem, if I did not want to begin life here with a copyright suit from Ecco Press.)
The poem is by Czeslaw Milosz, it’s from the collection, Bells in Winter (1974), and it’s called “Encounter.”
I dedicate it to any person drawn to look back in the past, over his life, or her life, or the life of others.
The poem begins with a memory of travel in a wagon through the woods at dawn. Somehow you know that it is drawn by an animal. It’s a cold dawn. A hare darts out . . .
“One of us pointed to it with his hand.
That was long ago. Today neither of them is alive.
Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.
Oh my lover, where are they, where are they going
The flash of hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles.
I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.