Category Archives: Stars & Stripes

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As a living poet I have always held a torch to tradition, using models like pillars on which to build my own poetical buildings. The Conchordia Folio is no different, for any self-respecting poet of substance, if turning to the dramatic arts, should really be focussing on the eminent dramatic poet of the language & his body of work.

But there is emulation & there is evolution, & for my own essay into theatre I have taken on board the love of my own zeitgeist for the Broadway/West End musical which has created, when blended with Shakespearean iambic pentameter, what I have call’d ‘Conchordia.’ In its purest essence it means ‘with chords,’ & all the songs I have provided for the conchords can be played on an acoustic guitar.

One must also praise the folk duo ‘The Flight Of The Conchords,’ who really raised the bar as to what an individual performer must be – part singer, part songwriter, part actor, part comedian, part dancer, etc… i.e. all the muses operating in a single bodily space.

The first 13 conchords of the CONCHORDIA FOLIO are;

LEITHOLOGY
Alibi
Tinky Disco
Gangstaland
Timewarpin’
No Nay Never

GODS OF THE RING
Fight Of The Century
Sunshine Showdown

LYRICAL HISTORIES
Flight of The White Eagles
Malmaison
Stars & Stripes
The Siege of Gozo
Charlie
Viriathus

Millhouse Green
22/04/21


The Conchordia Folio: An Interview with Damian Beeson Bullen (September 2019)

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Ever imagined what would have happen’d
If the Stone Roses had teamed up with Shakepseare? The Mumble caught up with the man behind it all…


Hello Damo. So you are here to talk about your new project, the Conchordia Folio – what’s it all about?
Hello Mumble. Well, in essence the folio is a collection of dramatic scripts, per se, rather like the Shakespearean folio. The only difference is I’m assembling it myself, whereas the Bard’s was collated by his pals a few years after his death. It should be ready in book & audio form by the Spring. There’ also an element of competition here – why not, you only get one life. As a poet I’ve written a better epic than Milton, but Shakespeare seems untouchable. But so were Liverpool FC before Fergie got the Man U job, & after declaring he wanted to ‘knock them off their fuc£king perch’ he went on to do so. I know I’m definitely a better bass-payer than Shakespeare, so I knew had to incorporate music into my scripts, play to my strengths kinda thing. Its worth a pop, right, to try & knock Shakespeare off his feffin perch!

So how exactly do you intend to ‘Knock Shakespeare off his feffin perch?’
I mean look, if a guy can run a marathon in less than two hours, another guy can outdo Shakespeare. Its the whole point of being human right, to better ourselves. Methodwise, its simple really. I’ve tried to outdo his sonnets already, creating a sequence of 154 which if you put against Shakespeare’s 154, I think I’ve got the edge. So it’ll be the same idea with the plays. I need to create a canonical 37 which when placed next to Shakepseare’s own 37, lets leave it to posterity to decide. My edge, I think, is going to be more penetrable language, shorter pieces & some proper banging tunes.

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Performing Alibi at Eden Festival, 2018

Thirty Seven plays – thats an awful lot to create in a single sitting – how long do you think will it take to achieve?
Well, I’ve written/been writing an epic poem, Axis & Allies, since 2001, so I can handle large projects no problemo. But I have set myself a time limit. With Shakespeare writing his last play, The Tempest, over the winter of 1610-1611, then he was 46 years old, approaching 47. For an even playing field, then, I need to be finishing my 37th play about the same time. I turn 47 in June 2024, so I’ve got just under four years to finish them all. Its totally doable, by the way, & watching that guy run a sub-two-hour marathon thro sheer hard work & dedication inspired me. I guess its a bit like if you got an infinite number of monkeys with typewriters, or whatever it was, one of them would randomly recreate the works of William Shakespeare OR you get one very determined bard from Burnley on an emulation mission creating something rather like the complete works of William Shaksepeare.

So what exactly is Conchordia?
Well. Its essentially the artform I’m inventing. Stripped down to its most basic level the term can be interpreted as ‘with chords’ – the idea is that one can witness a piece of drama accompanied by a single acoustic guitar. That’s the core. Then, I realised that guitar could be played by a performer, which reminded me of the very funny Flight of the Conchords duo. They are like proper multi-taskers – acting, singing, dancing, playing guitars – that’s what I want ‘Conchordian’ to be able to do. Act, sing, dance & playing instruments when they’re not on stage – even if its just percussive. Also, since Concord the airplane is now defunct, the name is up for grabs these days & I like idea of people going for a ride in one of my conchords.

What traits & attributes sets Conchordia apart from the other arts?
Each of the Conchordia has different DNA – there’s some that are just rock opera with barely any dialogue, & some that are simply musicals with an acoustic guitar. My later creations, however, are definitely realising a vision of theatre I have been developing. As a poet I have a gift for blank verse – its the most artistic way of expressing human speech. Shakespeare used it, so it can’t be that bad right? It certainly feels like at this point in time I’m the leading exponent of dramatic blank verse on the planet. I mean I just love it – there is a dynamic flow in those unrhymed five-stress ten styllable lines that  seems like the dream of ordinary speach in a greater version of humainity – the idealised tongue. The English also have a genius for songwriting, while the Americans have mastered the musical. So if we blend all these together – Shakespearean blank verse, English songwriting, plus a wee splash of Broadway, you get Conchordia.

What other musical instruments are used in Conchordia, apart from the percussion?
Well, to be honest, there’s no limit. I’m going off the old edict that for a song to be a good song it needs to sound good sung on its own with only an acoustic guitar. But any producer of a conchord may use that basis to add an orchestra, or a rock & roll band, anything they like really. Each text also has a few ‘set’ pointers, which may also be interpreted as the company sees fit.

Have you performed any of your conchords yet?
I have actually – last year I put on a piece called Alibi at the Haddington Corn Exchange & also at the Eden Festival. It was fun – everyone enjoyed performing it & watching it. Doing Alibi made me realise I was onto something & began to look at my past pieces.

Your past pieces, what do you mean?
Alibi was the first slice of musical theatre I ever did – in 2007 & 2008. I was wintering in Sicily & got an acoustic guitar for Christmas, 2006. I then started looking at my old songs, connecting the common threads & adding a story. Bingo, my first conchord! I performed a it a few times in Edinburgh, Sheffield & Leeds. Next was a piece called Charlie, about the Jacobite rebellion, which I made into a film. About that period, & ever since, I’ve created a few others, but all in sketch form, in various states of completion. The Conchordio Folio is the moment I get them all nailed – a line in the sand, so to speak.

What Conchords are to be included in the Folio?
Like I said before, 37. The first five come together in a quintology  called Leithology. There’s Alibi, Gangstaland, one I haven’t given a title to, a time-travelling one called Timewarpin’ & Tinky Disco. The idea is that they all interlink through characters, who each get a main musical to strut their stuff in. Like the X-Men franchise. Tinky Disco is based loosely upon The Tinky Disco Show, & will see the return of DJ Brooklyn – like a 21st century Falstaff. There are quite a number of histories – Charlie, Finnesburgh – based on a story in Beowulf – Malmaison, which tells the story of Napoleon on his return to Paris after Waterloo, one about Princess Diana, & Gods of The Ring, about the Foreman, Ali, Frazier fights in the 70s. There’s also a trilogy called The Rock & Roll Wars, its essentially a battle of the bands on a cosmic level. There’s Exes & Axes, a 19th century tale of romantic betrayal set in 19th century France – it doesn’t quite fit with any of the others, but its really funny.


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Composing Conchordia: Provence (February 2020)

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At the teddy bear shrine of Elizabeth Drummond

Just as Shakespeare toured Italy as a prelude to the writing of his Italian plays, when deciding to compose a conchord on Gaston Dominici, I thought a story-hunting trip to Provence in order to commune with the ghosts of that most famous of 20th century crimes would surely help my craft. The crime in question is the 1952 roadside murder of nutritionist Sir Jack Drummond, his wife & their 10 year old daughter. They had camped for the night near a farmhouse owned by Gaston Dominici, a 75 year old patriarch in whose barn was kept the WW2 carbine which shot Sir Jack & his wife, & then clubbed to death little Elizabeth. A shocking case which brought the world to the Durance Valley & also sucked to the surface old family quarrels & familiar local feuds which in the end saw Gaston sentenced to death. In the clear light of seven decades it seems likely that the perpetrator was Gaston’s grandson, 16 years old & probably drunk at the time, Roger Perrin.

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Last Thursday myself, Spud, Victor Pope & ex-Tinky Disco bandmate Al Roberts all made our bleary-eyed ways to Edinburgh airport for a 9.45 AM flight. Me & Spud always get wound up by Al leaving his house in a slow-shabby fashion, so opted to get to the airport ourselves – I took a tram & he the shuttle bus. Vic & Al shared an Uber without any mess-ups, which surprised us & proved a good omen to our week together on the road. As we stepped onto the tarmac to board our plane, the Scottish chill was fully raging & I was very much looking forward to a respite from the seemingly endless Caledonian winter.

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Gyptis choosing Euxene

A handful of hours later we were in Marseille & checking into our Air B&B right beside the Old Harbour, or Vieux Port. This was the spot where in 600 BC a guy called Euxene arrives from Phocae (an ancient part of Turkey) just in time for the local king’s daughter’s ‘choosing ceremony.’ In short, among a group of gathered suitors, Euxene was the one given a goblet of wine by princess Gyptis, who would later change her name to Aristoxenus. Euxene & Aristoxenus, now that’s already got the hallmarks of a conchord, I thought to myself, in the same way I thought that Gaston Dominici has a Motzartean ring about it. Looking at the Gyptis story at that point, tho, it unfortunately seemed a bit weak to make a conchord out of…

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Marseille with the lads was fun. Kicking back with a smart TV & cheap beer in the hypermodern flat or on the balcony overlooking the harbour, with the pointed cathedral rising on the central Marseille hill beyond. On the smart TV, we watched Netflix, played all our music videos, while Al could send to it our recent recordings – an album called the New Truth. I couldn’t help but notice the technological advancement of the species – the last time I was in Provence was 20 years ago & for fun me & my pal, Bryn, ended up making a chess board out of paper & stones. Here’s an extract from my journal of that time.


May 10th, 2000

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We woke up proper spangled, but a quick dip in the exquisitely cool pool proved enough of a respite from our frail noggins & we were able to pack & head out to Cannes. It was the first day of the festival & full of noisy Yanks, so we soon got out of dodge, striking inland on a bus to Grasse, a lovely town stacked high against the hillside. We had a couple of hours to kill so wandered around a bit & to our delight found it very swell, with lovely narrow streets & great prospects of the Cotes d’Azore in the distance.

After sending off our postcards we hopped on a bus north along La Route Napoleon. The view was spectacular as we climbed & wound thro’ the mountains, each one clad in trees giving a baize effect, & I could imagine Napoleon & his column following the same road. A rapid mist descended, however, followed soon after by heavy rain which showed no intention of letting up as we were unceremoniously dumped in the wee hamlet of Seranon. We dived into the only bar around for shelter & refreshment, obtaining a few funny looks off the funny looking locals.

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In the days before group emails & blogs

Eventually we found out the bus north didn’t leave til the morning, so we were stuck. We didn’t fancy putting the tent up in the rain so opted for a hotel. A friendly couple drove us a half mile down the road to their mate’s hotel, which was closed. Luckily the mustached madame opened it up for us (a whole hotel to ourselves), but we were forced to share a double bed (with pants on obviously). As soon as we paid our 15 francs the sun came out & we heaved a table up to the roof, bought wine, cheese, bread & sausage & had a most pleasant supper among the mountains. It was cool, me musing & Bryn sketchin’ & it felt nice to be doing spot of real travelling, the only sound being the constant chuckle of crickets. Bryn very correctly brought up the point we were stuck in a one horse dive & had less than two days to get to Venice, but I re-assured him all would be reyt. We made a chess-board out of paper & stones & played to the setting of the sun, before all the wine & well-thought-out moves took their toll & sent us both a-slumbering.


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At a monument to Rimbaud, Marseille seafront

Fastforward to 2020, on our first full day in France – Brexit day as it so happened – we enjoyed a daytime riviera stroll, followed by a wicked night out at bohemian La Plaine – a very funky part of Marseille. Drinking & dancing & downing tequilas, we met an English busker called Charlie, & his Slovakian girlfriend. The gods had answered our pleas, & he actually had 3 guitars. ‘Don’t worry, we won’t steal them – it’ll be too expensive to check them into our flights back,’ put him off from coming round for a jam, but he agreed to meet us the next day for a wee busk.

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It was more than a joy the following afternoon to find ourselves all jamming together by Marseille harbour to the infinite delight of the locals. Our immediate audience consisting of an annoying kid who kept banging the guitars, a Czech street lassie & a Parisenne rock-chick who finds Marseille a cheaper place to live. Before then, I’d taken a solo morning mission up to Allauch, a hilltop village right on the edge of the Marseille conurbation. It was at the old castle, even higher still, that I filmed the following Pendragon Poetry post, talking all about Conchordia.

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Allauch
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I was up in the hills as I’d read that a possible Gyptis object had been found in a hillside cave nearby. The curator of the slick local museum begged to differ, but I said I’m a poet & I didn’t want the truth to get in the way of a good story. Yes, a conchord was being born & on the way back to the appartment I googled a few Greek myths & found one, which I felt I could use – Alcyone and Ceyx. Basically, they offended the gods by calling themselves Hera & Zeus, & ended up being drowned & then turned into birds. A little creative furnace-burning later & I’d transmorped the myth into Euxene & Aristoxenus being turned into the the islands of Pomègues and Ratonneau which lie off the mouth of Marseille harbour. Like the Phaecean ship which carried Odysseus to Ithica being turned to stone.

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Alcyone & Ceyx
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Pomègues and Ratonneau

Compositionwise I only managed a few speeches from VIRIATHUS in Marseille – the second Senate scene – in the early morning before the boys woke up, mainly at a cafe by the harbour. I usually compose on my morning East Lothian walks with Daisy, accompanied otherwise only by nature and the essential headspace needed to really zone out. Not so easy in a busy city as ever. There was no way I was going to achieve my goal of finishing Viriathus on this trip & then starting ‘The Flight of the White Eagles, ‘ – my conchord about the retreat from Moscow – the notes for which I worked intensively on before I set off. Still, they are all in the bank & Viriathus should be finished within days. I’ll be recreating the antics & dashing chit-chat of Seargant Bourgogne soon enough!

Capture

We left Marseille the next day, the sunshine heating up, arriving by train at the Durance valley & the station which serves La Brilliane & Oraison. The River Durance patches its way between them on a hugely wide stony river bed, with hills framing the scene on either side, & the snow-capped Alps closing the vista far to the north at Digne. Public transport round these parts is pretty neglible, & with it being Sunday afternoon no shops were open. Of that first of the two matters, we soon hit paydirt. After walking over the bridge to Oraison, beyond the frustratingly closed intermarche, we came to a carpark where I asked a lovely fella could he take us to Dabisse, & he agreed gladly.

IMG_20200202_180849.jpgDabisse is a wee village with a bar & a bus stop kinda thing. The bar was well busy, tho, its car park full of temporary pebbledash for a meeting of the region’s petanque teams. It was a really serendiptous, masonic, monastic moment listening to the clink-clinks & murmours of the play. Getting a carry-out together we went back to our villa & gorged on the food previous Air B&B-ers had left behind – a severe stroke of luck for a hungry bunch on a Sunday.


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Ah, the good old days! Roll on a nigh decade & I found myself composing Viriathus, drinking wine by the pool of a plush villa in Provence. We had a look at the pool, but soon covered it up again – early February means a bit of algae & no need for pool-use, I guess.

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The fridge was now full. We’d hitched a lift to Oraison in the morning off the lovely John Christmas (real name Jean-Noel), stocked up at the supermarket, then caught a taxi back to Dabisse for the day. And what a day, far from the Scottish chill and ended by a walk with Al for a sunset view over the Durance valley.

Some of those 21 degree sun-soaked, Senate-based Viriathus lines composed by the pool read like this ;

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Galba
Senators of our majestic city
& many other regions in its stride,
This treaty is, in the highest degree,
Dishonorable to all we stand for,
Staining Servilianus’ career,
Viriathus is a craved barbaric,
Beheading, disembowelling at will,
A bandit on an unsubsistive soil –
To him a border is a line to cross
To empty beaten innocents of blood
& topple pillars, pillaging obscene.

Lupius
Obscene? Objection! You paint him monster,
Humanity, his high ascendency,
Distributes unifying spiritus
That never in the passage of this war,
In armies of tribal variety,
Was ever spill’d sedition, all obey’d,
All fearless in the presence of danger –
As statesman he was neither humble-knee’d
Nor overbearing in leagues & treaties,
Faithful, exact, aequis, veritable,
Vir Duxque Magnus, ancient ideals
Penetrated atoms of existence,
& as the adsertur of Hispania
Let us assert our honour to his will
Make good his claims to the fame of the world,
Too many lost already in that place
We owe him our respect

Galba
We owe him death
The retributive slew for youth hard lost.

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So to yesterday – the ultimate object of this mission & a trip to La Grand Terre, the farmhouse of the Dominicis. It began in fine fashion with me & Spud arguing about how to get to Lurs – it was a case of his gammy leg versus my abundant energy & in the end the lads got a taxi & I walked the muddy Durance-side fields down to the bridge & back up the other side. I got to Lurs scrambling up its rocky slopes & arrived at its medieval core to see the lads waiting at the entrance. Once reunited we hit the old goat tracks down to the road, & using a little satnav orienteering came out at the very spot where the Drummonds were murdered. The poignant teddy bear shrine is testament to the locals’ indignation at the death of a child.

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Looking back from Lurs Terrace on the way I had walked – Dabisse is the village middle left & I walked by the Durance to the right of the photo
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Oraison is the town in the middle distance – I crossed the bridge there & walked to this point
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Approaching La Grand Terre

After La Grand Terre, I’d got it in my head that we could ford the Durance – Dabisse was more or less facing us on the other bank. The lads humoured me & watched me make tentative efforts on a scouting mission in the shallower bits – but the plan was soon aborted & we caught a taxi back. That night I ruminated in a Pendragon fashion on the Drummond murders & got a pretty plausible idea of what went on that night – which I’ll use in my composition.

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The next day we chilled in the sun til 2PM, caught a taxi to the station, then a train to Saint Antione, conducted a wee walk to our Air B&B off La Pennes Mirabeau, then caught the Rangers-Hibs game over beers. At 6AM we hired a lift off our landlord to the airport & we were finally in Edinburgh by 9.30 AM. On the flight I pretty much worked out the structure of the Dominic conchord – 4 acts with a cliffhanger ending each one – & began sketching it out on the inside cover of an Agatha Christie book I was reading on the holiday- A Pocketful of Rye. Just like Agatha I was going backwards from the ending, & there’s a chance I could have a wee Mousetrap on my hands if I get mi ‘ead down. With bangin’ tunes & Shakespearean blank verse, of course!

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Composing Conchordia: Vaulting The Lockdown (May 2020)

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After the completion of the Leithology quintology – which will soon be on sale on all platforms – & the composition of Viriathus & Malmaison, I felt THE FLIGHT OF THE WHITE EAGLES was going to be a real statement-maker. If I really do wanna emulate Shakespeare, I need definitive works with meaty bodies – a bit like Hamlet innit – & so turned to Napoleon’s infamous retreat from Moscow as the first of my major conchords. There’s a hell of a lot of drama obviously, & when it comes to stagecraft the visual deterioration of the soldiers will be a wonderful story to tell.

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With five acts of seven or so scenes each, all bubbling with blank verse & containing both original songs & songs drawn from the period itself, WHITE EAGLES definitely marks a placement of my muse on a Parnassian plateaux of sorts. No looking back now – ten down, 27 to go!

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LEITHOLOGY – Available in book form soon

I began researching WHITE EAGLES last year after reading the fabulous ‘Memoirs of Sergeant Bourgogne.’ From this first catalyst – I was very verteux at the time – I began to research other memoirs up in the National Library of Scotland, such as those of Caulaincourt, & set to work on the composition period not long after my return from Provence sometime in mid-February. Then the Lock Down happened. I don’t need to rattle on about it, everyone’s experiencing it. I’m lucky tho’ – I walk dogs with my girlfriend which meant I could to & fro between my places in Edinburgh & East Lothian for ‘work that cannot be done from home‘ – the dog numbers had drastically plumetted, but there was enough to make it valid & of course meant I could compose pretty much anyway I liked – from the Lammermuirs to Leith Links. Here’s a Walking East Lothian post I created during the Lock Down.

Musically, WHITE EAGLES has been something of an educational dream, help’d along by my house-mate’s keyboard playing. By February I had a couple of tunes, but then began to write more & add local colour so to speak, translating from the French lyric into the English. Of my new songs THE BALLAD OF BORODINO is really beautiful I think, & THE GREAT NAPOLEON really fun – the Herod moment – my house mate incorporating the Tetrislike theme tune into via some techno rave from the 90s via Hicksy & Sharky. He also fell in love with Plaisir D’Amour & Compere Guillere.

The full list of songs is below, with astersks denoting my own compositions)

The Sable Raven – English version
Marlbrough is Going To war – English version
Plasir D’amour
Parisienne Skies (*)
On Va Leur Percer Le Franc
The Blood of Borodino (*)
Pomme de Terres (*)
Compere Guillere – French Version
Song of the Loricated Legion (*)
My Handsome Husband (*)
Soarin’ Home (*)
Chant du Depart
Crossing the Bridge (*)
The Great Napoleon (*)
Compere Guillere – English version (*)
Au Clair de la Lune
Le Depart Du Bologne
The March from Moscow (*)

Theatrically, there are a lot of parts – three main bodies of 8-10 characters; Napoleon & his entourage, Bourgogne’s company & the Russian partisans. There’s also another 20 or so walk-in parts, plus the crossing of the Berezhina bridge to depict – but whenever WHITE EAGLES does get performed everyone’s gonna JUST love it!

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Artistically, WHITE EAGLES is the bag daddy to Malmaison, but together they form a very good account of Napoleon’s life. Like I said at the start, it also represents the foot-scrambling heave onto the plateaux from where the rest of my conchords will be composed.

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The first of this new bunch is GODS OF THE RING & I’m extremely excited about it. The principle subject is the four fights between Ali, Foreman & Frazier, & all the dramas before, during, after & between the fights. The names of these epic combats have gone down in history – THE FIGHT OF THE CENTURY, THE SUNSHINE SHOWDOWN, THE RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE & THE THRILLA IN MANILLA. Like White Eagles I’ve already got two tunes in the bank, a theme tune & the sublime, best song I’ve written in ages, BLACK POWER. I’ve been compiling the notes in the past few days, the bulk of which were studied for in the National Library just before the Lockdown.  I’m gonna print out the first notes today & get composing soon after.

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With White Eagles taking just over three months, & June the 1st on the horizon, I’ve got a feeling that every new conchord is gonna take a season – so Gods of the Ring is the conchord of the summer of 2020 – the weird summer, the one where the theatres were closed. For me, I think I’ll be spending some of it hopefully in Greece, where the next of these windows into my workings will be composed.


STARS & STRIPES: OVERTURE / SCENES 1-2

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

George Washington
John Adams
Samuel Adams
Benjamin Franklin
Martha Washinton
Betty Judge
Ona Judge
Dolly Madison
John McGraw
John Souissat
Paul Jennings
Charles Carrol
Bridget Turner
Nat Turner
Ceasar Jones
Zack Edgefield
Francis Key
Bridget Turner
Nat Turner
Ceasar Jones
Zack Edgefield
Andrew Jackson
Chief Junaluska
John Ross
Hiawasee
Oukonunaka
Bart Boone
Logan Morgan
Wesley Wyatt
Busty Adams
Preacher Virgil
Presiding Officer of the Senate
William Lloyd Garrison
Moses
Alexander
Julius
Evelina
Abraham Lincoln
William H Seward
V.P. Hannibal Hamlin
Salmon P Chaise
General Robert E Lee
Stonewall Jackson
Thomas
James
Walter H Taylor
James Longstreet
Joseph Rodman Drake

MUSIC

Stars & Stripes Forever
Amazing Grace
Yankee Doodle
Star Spangl’d Banner
Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen
The Arkansas Traveller
A Native American Pow-wow
Banks of Sacramento
Wagon Wheel
Dear Evelina
The Southern Wagon
The Battle Hymn Of The Republic
Dixie
The Star-Spang’d Banner


OVERTURE
Instrumental: The Stars & Stripes Forever


SCENE 1: The Founding Fathers

The Stars & Stripes are flying high / Enter George Washington holding the Declaration of Independence

George Washington
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved

Enter John Adams

John Adams
Yesterday the greatest question was decided which ever was debated in America; and a greater perhaps never was, nor will be, decided among men. A resolution was passed without one dissenting colony, ‘that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States. The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

Enter Samuel Adams

Samuel Adams
General Washington, my cousin, John Adams, & all the Americans gathered here under the eyes of God. Who among you, my countrymen, that is a parent, would claim authority to make your child a slave because you had nourished him in his infancy? No man had once a greater veneration for Englishmen than I entertained. They were dear to me as branches of the same parental trunk, and partakers of the same religion and laws; but when I am roused by the din of arms: when I behold legions of foreign assassins, paid by Englishmen to imbrue their hands in our blood: when I tread over the uncoffined bones of my countrymen, neighbors and friends: when I see the locks of a venerable father torn by savage hands, and a feeble mother, clasping her infants to her bosom, and on her knees imploring their lives; when I behold my country, once the seat of industry, peace, and plenty, changed by Englishmen to a theatre of blood and misery.

We have now no other alternative than independence, or the most ignominious and galling servitude. To unite the supremacy of Great Britain and the liberty of America, is utterly impossible. So vast a continent and of such a distance from the seat of empire will every day grow more unmanageable. The people of this country have formally and deliberately chosen a Government for themselves.

Enter Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin
George, John, Sam, Countrymen & Brethren. Does thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of. Our revolution against a great power is well underway. The struggle is great but it is with little strokes that we fell great oaks. The axeman, General George Washington, leads our brave troops & I enjoy today what posterity will say of him. For a thousand leagues have nearly the same effect with a thousand years.

George Washington
Excuse me, gentlemen, I must take leave & rejoin the army

Exit Washington

Benjamin Franklin
We have now in the field armies sufficient to repel the whole force of our enemies. The hearts of our soldiers beat high with the spirit of freedom – they are animated with the justice of their cause, and while they grasp their swords, can look up to heaven for assistance.

Samuel Adams
Our Union is now complete; our constitution composed, established, and approved. You are now the guardians of your own liberties. We may justly address you, as the Decemviri did the Romans, and say – “Nothing that we propose can pass into a law without your consent. Be yourselves, O Americans, the authors of those laws on which your happiness depends.

John Adams
God Bless America

Samuel Adams & Benjamin Franklin
God Bless America

All
God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above
From the mountains to the prairies
To the oceans white with foam
God bless America, my home sweet home

Exit Adams, Samuel Adams & Franklin / Enter the Spirit of America

Spirit
As rivers whirr with bloodshed’s thick-red flow,
As wide plains ring with chivalry of sorts,
A monarch obstinate is made to know
America has flung him from the ports,
When since the surrender of Cornwallis,
No longer heel-kept subjects forced to be,
Grown citizens, not of the Colonies,
But thirteen states combin’d especially,
In state, in peace, whose, happy hearted zeal,
Has left old England’s egoistic heel.

All sides Jackflag of union down-torn,
Another crowns the steeples, hangs in bars,
A thing of beauty, Philadelphi born,
Of thirteen stripes; & in the canton, stars
Also thirteen – they’ll ever represent
A curlecued republic wrought anew,
Whose dedication plants a nation’s bed
That one day half-a-continent shall spread,
Whose sceptre’d glory, always, heaven-sent,
America’s commander-President.

Enter Washington

Spirit
E Pluribus unum, out of many
Comes one, one came, still burns the perfect flame
His Excellency lit, unlike any
Before, or since, pprogenitor of fame
Who swears solemnly, with regal reserve,
To… “maintain with faithful execution
The office of President; to preserve
Protect & defend the constitution!”
As thirteen cannon flatter with salvos
George kiss’d his Bible as if sniff’d the rose.

Washington
I address you all today with the most ardent love that a Country can inspire in a man. The magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of our young nation called me, has instilled within me a duty to form just appreciations of every circumstance, by which we might be affected. It would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect.

No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.

Since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained: And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.

Having thus imported to you my sentiments, as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign parent of the human race, in humble supplication that since he has been pleased to favour the American people, with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquility, and dispositions for deciding with unparellelled unanimity on a form of Government, for the security of their Union, and the advancement of their happiness; so his divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.

Exit George Washington


SCENE 2: Mount Vernon

Martha Judge & her daughter Ona are working in the kitchen – they are singing Amazing Grace

AMAZING GRACE

Amazing grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Amazing grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

Amazing grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

Enter Martha Washington

Martha
Betty, what did I tell you about singing those common negro songs in my kitchen

Betty
I’m sorry Mrs Washington

Martha
Just carry on as you were, but in silence – my husband, your master, & your president, will be home any minute –

Betty
He’s gonna be needing a good feeding, ma’am

Martha
That’s right, now get to it

Ona & Betty get to work / Enter The Spirit of America

Spirit
Up in the Big House, far from gloomy rooms,
Good mistress, Martha Washington, commands
The best domestics, Betty at the looms
True seamstress was, a needle in her hands
Conducted Verdi like swans on water;
Between them both, with eyes of beaming bronze,
Sits Ona Judge, Betty’s pretty daughter,
Who’s tying on the hat her master dons
For presidential meetings, ‘Look at me!’
She giggl’d, ‘I am noble, I am free!’

Enter George Washington, who sits down for his meal with Martha

Martha
I’ve sensed a certain slackness on their part,
If duty is not given by fair means
We must apply coercion, steel our heart
If trusted force be used, those brutal scenes
Deem rather proper, such impertinence
Should prosecuted be by public eye,
I’ll never trust a nigger – such pretence,
They’ whip each other softer than a fly –
But hand no more the whip to Hyland Crow,
He hates the negro & he lets them know.

George
My love, be sure, I’ll pass on your concerns,
But there is something else needs must attend,
In Pennsylvania most Blacks are free
& if a slave resides in that strange state
A full six months, they’ll earn their liberty,
An owner’s rights shall then lawfully end,
I heard that impudent huzzy, Betty,
Has been hollerin’ a storm of vain hope,
Thinkin’ Philadelphia is her fate –
I’d rather see her danglin’ from a rope.

Martha
The solution, as I plainly see it,
Always advise excuses to return
To our beloved homestead, so be it
Good & just for those wretches to learn
We own their fates, & if a slave believes
In six months freedom, let us leave in five,
I have no pity for these rogues & thieves;
Our apples, corn & meat here used to thrive,
While every time they serve a glass of wine
Those vultures guzzle two by shrewd design.

George
If you insist, my dear, but deep inside
I’m fluster’d by an ineffective sense
Of something waspish, this I can’t abide,
I see the white man by his picket fence,
Facing rough fields where black men labor long
In grating chains of slavery, rough-slapp’d,
I listen to the beauties of their song
& feel in them the soul of freedom trapp’d –
Our Union, & human dignity,
Depends on rootin’ out brute slavery.

Martha
There is a life to which the babe must yield,
My love, by fate or fortune, from its birth –
Tight-rooted wolfsbane, twisted in a field,
Or rhododendron of an arcade earth;
Ours was run plantations in Virginia,
Theirs, help us to run them by best means,
Let us unwaver from the linear,
Remembering to grow our maize & beans,
Leaving these problems to a future age
Whose abolitionists they’ll assuage.

Spirit
As adolescence sweetens & matures,
The ragged hedge seems less persistent cage
For one young lass, struck by the world’s allures
Prepares the flit, & dares the bold outrage,
Prepares to make the river run uphill
Tonight’s the night she’ll escape Mount Vernon,
Out slip’t she thro’ the moonlit window sill
Her heart was poundin’, her fate was burnin’ –
Meanwhile, downstairs, the Washington’s did dine,
On lovely supper with a Bordeaux wine.

No more cotton snows of summer, no more
The snapping whip, no more the sodden hay
Soak’d thro’ with tears as men wept on the floor,
No more the dawnings of the Devil’s day,
Soon Ona Judge is crown’d a chain-free wife!
A mother & a child of God remade,
Happy to lead the lapse of her long life,
Without the threat of yet one more tirade –
She is American, her rights upstand,
To live by law, free worship, & buy land.

Stars & Stripes: Scenes 3-8

SCENE 3: The Canadian Border

Enter the Spirit of America

Spirit
This stage in the age of global affairs
Sends Washington three substantial rivals;
The Mexicans strewn thro’ the arid South,
While East of Mississippi indogenes
Diminish in the folly of the peace
Extended them once happily, & find
Lands of an ancient sacredness desired
By greed-eyed hawks, while to the open north
The mystery of Canada extends,
Where Britain’s battle banner flutters free.

Enter a company of America Soldiers marching to war

YANKEE DOODLE

Yankee Doodle went to town
A-riding on a pony,
Stuck a feather in his cap
And called it macaroni.

Yankee Doodle keep it up,
Yankee Doodle dandy,
Mind the music and the step,
And with the girls be handy.

& YankeeI saw a swamping gun
Large as a log of maple,
Upon a deuced little cart,
A load for father’s cattle.

Yankee Doodle keep it up,
Yankee Doodle dandy,
Mind the music and the step,
And with the girls be handy.

And every time he’ll shoot it off,
It took a horn of powder,
And made a noise like father’s gun,
Only a nation louder.

Yankee Doodle keep it up,
Yankee Doodle dandy,
Mind the music and the step,
And with the girls be handy.

And there was Cap’n Washington,
And gentle folks about him;
They say he’s grown so ‘tarnal proud
He will not ride without ’em.

Yankee Doodle keep it up,
Yankee Doodle dandy,
Mind the music and the step,
And with the girls be handy.

Yankee Doodle went to town
A-riding on a pony,
Stuck a feather in his cap
And called it macaroni.

Spirit
Election year, of course, had come around,
The President was losing in the polls
What better than a military jaunt
To rouse indifferent voters for him,
Upon his chest pin Washingtonian
Glory – upon some mercantile pretext,
To Canada he marches mobile arms,
Wasting the properties of Britishers,
So savage act has painted scarlet lines,
Of battle-harden’d veterans of war.

A battle scene between The Americans & the British sees an American retreat.


SCENE 4: The Executive Mansion, Washington

The First Lady, Dolly Madison is with the gardener, John McGraw, John Souissat & her manservant, Paul Jennings

Paul Jennings
I’ve never heard a noise like I’ve just heard,
It seems the Devil’s stepp’d out of his den
& hurl’d his fire & brimstone at our boys,
Strange, infernal, terrifying rockets
Flew at our lines, men dropp’d their muskets, ran
Faster than when a storm’s burst overhead
& you might be one half-mile outta home,
Knowing if you’d sprint back you’d keep best dry –
Faster than that – sweet life was in account;
Ah Carrol comes, he’ll add to my telling.

Charles Carrol
Mrs Madison, Mrs Madison,
I bring ya’ll tidings, with a weeping heart;
The British are coming, a regatta
Of frigates, sloops & schooners; they have fought
A battle up at Bladenburg, they’ve drove
Our legion from the field, twas like a race –
But flight has grown essential, you should flee
The capital, who knows what they’ll enact?
I’ve heard they’re furious at poisonous
Whiskey folks left when emptying the farms.

John McGraw
I say we should sing rally songs & fight,
All thro’ this war we’ve whipp’d the Old Country,
How dare those confounded sarpants anchor
In these fair waters, barges of arm’d men
Frighten good families, all tarnations
To them & their Tory machinations,
I might be Scots-bred but I dare not care
For London’s turpid guile, aye, long erewhile
The Jacobites were brutally repress’d,
Let’s fight, I say, these insults pay with blood.

John Souissat
The city is abandoned by soldiers,
Most ignominiously, officers
Have simply vanished; a sauve qui pert
Situation has arisen, & I
Do not intend to fight these men alone;
I urge you, Mrs President, no sense
There is in staying put, with graceful air
Greet enemies with fineries of state –
Risk grows too great, they might be gentlemen
But you are our First Lady, Heaven sent.

Dolly Madison
Oh! Very well, we’ll go, but not before
The Landsdowne portrait safely pack’d away,
It would become an Eagle of the French
Fallen in English hands, to be uphung
In some captain of Surrey’s sitting room,
No! Break the frame, the screws too tight to move
Within this tiny time, boys break the frame!
Get to it, & then roll the canvas smooth,
Boys, whisk it up to New York ’til the day
We’ll stand back in this room, & unafraid!


SCENE 5: Washington

Enter the Spirit of America & British Redcoats

Spirit
Into the place where this strange war began
By jeers, & cheers, & strokes of inky pen,
A place of magnificent distances,
March the British, whose sharpshooter surprise
Ensures an onset of grim destruction
That has begun already, blazing glow
Floats oer an empty city, in whose streets
Flames surge up doors & windows; nothing spar’d
Whose noblest part, tho’ gutted, parch’d & black,
Defiant stands to dreadful damages!

Arise yon Phoenix palace from the flames,
Emulsion’d in purest absolution,
A promise heaven-sworn in every heart
That beats American; ‘never again
Shall foreign sov’reigns & their armies lord
Among our sacred capital,’ a song
Erewhile composed by captive, Francis Key,
Watching by Baltimore Fort Henry fall,
But soak’d in British blood, him very first
To sing ‘Star Spangl’d Banner’ from the heart.

Francis Key is composing a poem while imprisoned in the belly of a British ship

Francis Key
Let me see that start again… hmmm, yes, By the dawn’s early light, lah-de-dah-de we hailed, at the twilight’s first dreaming – No ! – last… gleaming, yes, that has the ring

STAR SPANGL’D BANNER

Oh say can you see,
By the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed,
At the twilight’s last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars,
Through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched,
Were so gallantly streaming.

And thy rocket’s red glare,
Thy bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through thee night,
That our flag was still there.

Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

Spirit
Just before Christmas the Treaty of Ghent
Free sign’d; dwindle shadows of man’s ravage,
Reason prevails, an unwinnable war,
Suspended was uti possidetis,
Territory mutually restor’d,
As each side of a Continental line
Two nations branding landage eternal,
Americans, Canadians, at peace
For evermore, ancestrally allied,
Like sisters settl’d on their mother’s street.


SCENE 6: A cottonfield in the Southampton.

The slaves are singing as they work

NOBODY KNOWS THE TROUBLE I’VE SEEN

Solo
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows my sorrow
& Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Glory hallelujah

All
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows but Jesus {my sweet Jesus}
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Glory hallelujah
{Nobody Knows}

Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down
Oh, yes my lord
Sometimes I’m almost to the ground
Oh, oh yes lord

A voice in me is going on slow
Well yes, my lord
& I’ll have my trials heal’d below
O yes lord!

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows but Jesus
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Glory hallelujah

Oh, every day to you I pray
Oh, yes Lord
For you to drive my sins away
Oh, yes Lord

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows but Jesus
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Glory hallelujah

Well yes the devil asked me so
Why & why
Cos he asked me once & he let me
Let you go

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows but Jesus
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Glory hallelujah

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows but Jesus
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Glory hallelujah

Solo (slow)
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows my sorrow
& Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Glory hallelujah

The workers in the field transform into slaves, chained in the hold of an Atlantic ship – to one side the young Nat Turner is listening to his grandmother, Bridget

Bridget
The drums, the dancing, the songs, the singing
Were gone – neck-rings, thumbscrews, clinking chains
Were all – hands full of diamonds here wringing
Flesh in dreadful compacts, & as we fused
Pandemonium unveil’d; tears, disease,
Thirst, coughs & curses, far from soft embrace
Of family, kept by smugging mantis,
‘Must keep the Cargo fit,‘ up to seabreeze
Them set to dance, passionless, lacking grace,
To strangest strains of Arkansas shanties.

Several slaves are made to dance to the music of the ill-mannered sailors – the piece is the ARKANSAS TRAVELER by Joe Clark

Sailor
Dance, nigger dance! move them dirty feet or I’ll hack ’em both right off

Enter the Spirit of America

Spirit
Nat Turner sat dumbstruck as granny told
Amazing stories of Africky youth,
Of sailing endless ocean in the hold
Of some spice-ship; into the dark, uncouth
Chains of slave-living, of ravens & scorn,
Nat loved to hear of the lion’s roaring
Watch granny’s right arm swinging like a trunk,
He yearn’d to see the land from which them torn –
Then, when the whole plantation was snoring,
He read his Bible, silent as a monk.

Nat, into major manhood burns each day,
But brutal barbs of slavery all hearts
Have penetrated deep, the cruel flay
Of beatings; as Nat’s bedstead curtain parts
An overseer drags him from his bed
& kicks him with contemptuousity,
Like drunkards booting mutts across the floor;
“Master,” says Nat, “tho you may beat me dead,
My dying breath shall bring eternity,
& Jesus all my liberties restore.”


SCENE 7 : Southampton County

Nat Turner is gather’d with several fellow slaves

Nat Turner
Men, hear me now, this step once wonder’d at,
Flung irreversible twyx steep & lane,
Shall fly just like a leaping thundercat
Namore shall we be forced to work in rain,
Half-starv’d, half-naked, backs cowskin-shredded,
Life drain’d by immental bloodhounds who’ve made
Organised conspiracies to oppress
Our freedom’s right; God in me’s embedded
A sulling soul no beatin’ could degrade,
Willing to burst its physical duress.

Ceasar Jones
Ah aint so sure, ah’ve heard most grievous tales
Of those up in the North, of runaways’
Deplorable conditions, mischievous
Thieves; angst & angry hunger blight their days;
My master told me so, the same I heard
From Little Obie, who last year return’d,
Long complaining that a cold potato,
Was all he ate all day; Nat, its absurd
To risk such sufferance, when I have learn’d
Rough fate awaits us, thus I cannot go.

Nat Turner
Such lies have thread the rope that binds thy mind,
The truth is very different, they cuff
& beat us, keep our hungers close behind,
Til buried doglike in the scour-box rough –
They’ll drip the boiling porkfat on our backs,
They’ll dare not feed us well, nor clothe us warm,
Just gruel & trousers coarsely hack’d from sacks,
Else dreams of comfort, freedom, might intrude –
Atrocity accepted is the norm,
When each day find they barbary more crude.

Zack Edgefield
I hear ya Nat, let us not be like beast;
Hunted, penn’d in some inglorious spot,
While round us barking, slaverdogs releas’d,
Have made a mock at our determin’d lot;
I’m with ya man, we fight a common foe
I’d die for just one moment to be brave,
With battle join’d, by ye on the attack,
Sound, sound the horn & I shall gladly go,
Better to settle in a rebel grave,
Than spend my life serving a maniac

Nat Turner
The White Man preaches he be Christian,
Believe me when I say they live in Hell,
From slavery, nothing but corruption,
All-pervading comes, some licentious spell
Shall vitiate slaveholders & their sons
In lusty visitations thro’ the night,
While mistresses pretend a pantomime
All dwell in dire dens of dead illusions
Which ravages our soul, our children blight,
Aye fight we must, each day no better time.

Spirit
The morning sun is burning bluish-green,
A signal for the slaughterworks to come,
Large hoard of Danite slaves charge to a scene
Where Free Blacks also beat the Akan drum,
As Turner quotes good scriptures & the psalms,
From field-to-field men set their brethren free,
Hatchets, knives & axes send wounds to work,
No paleskin spared, not even babes-in-arms,
As from the mental depths where torments lurk
With righteous, violent fury vengeance rose.

Nat Turner’s soul flew free for sixty days,
As if him angel vapours in a glade,
But like a wee mouse mither’d by a maze,
They dragg’d him from the hole, him swift displayed
On trial, tho’ the verdict all well knew,
When ask’d did he regret things Nat replied
‘Was Christ not crucified,‘ then he did hang,
His corpse was flay’d, beheaded, axes drew
Flesh-bloody quarters, then the knife applied,
As oer Jerusalem the Angels sang!

“The mad dog is dead,” white folks triumph’d home
To irreligious brothels of that vice
Quite wicked, like the civic stain of Rome,
Lusting to enslave all the world’s races;
Shaming progressive lands of libertie,
A country’s fabric bulging at the seams,
The mantra, ‘All made equal,‘ most forget
& yet, as Nat did strike his blameless blow
He’s show the Negro shares a nation’s dreams,
When one of them may walk the West Wing yet.


Scene 8: A sacred pow-wow dance by native Americans

Stars & Stripes: SCENES 9-14

Scene 9 : Washington

Andrew Jackson’s office / enter Cherokee elders with the Spirit of America

Spirit
I’ll tell you the tale of the Trail of Tears
& the guile of action-minded Jackson,
The Cherokee proclaim him Big White Chief,
Who calls them ‘Children’ with paternal words,
‘As the Cherokee tribe of Indian,’
Are living east of great Mississippi,
In the midst of a white population,
Your dwelling places & your people poor, Hungry, your game dissappeared, your young men
All turn’d to drink, to go… not if but when’

Chief Junaluska
Your seven thousand troops of cruel blue
Came in a friendless, condescending raid,
It was the end of all they ever knew,
Limitless horizons block’d by stockade;
By emigration depots like Fort Cass
& Ross’s landing at Chattanooga;
I weep, I weep, I weep at how things pass,
I had fought at Horse Shoe like a cougar,
From tomahawks I sav’d your life that day,

Andrew Jackson
Your fate is seal’d is all that I can say.

Exit the elders

Spirit
As Andrew Jackson skims the morning news
In stately home, overlooking water,
His conscience takes good care to not confuse
These vital relocations for slaughter;
Lament the Delaware, the Ottowa,
The Creek, the Chickasaw, the Cherokee,
The Potawatomi, the Iowa,
The Shawnee, the Fox & the Miami –
Persuaded by men of high distinction
Reservations better than extinction!

Such was the birth-lay of America,
Eugenics knocks mercy from its garments
& kicks it beyond the tectonica,
Like toothless hobos shooting at varmints,
Vultures hover over ancient nations
The spirits of the shaman flee the fate
Brutal cultural obliterations
Six hundred wagons, roofless, rude, await
A thousand miles of misery, a trail
Of tyranny if pregnant, ageing, frail.


SCENE 10: Little Rock Arkansas

Upon the Trail of Tears, the Cherokee elders are deep in conversation

Chief Junaluska
Dear John, Mysterious Little White Bird,
Your wife is with the Spirit of the Sky,
Creator Unetlanuhi has heard
Good woman was she, tears divine he’ll cry,
To hear how Old Man Winter’s rearing head,
Outblew the freezing sneeze like sleet & snow,
The paths of pain were raining with the dead,
A sick child lacking blanket from the blow
Your wife did witness, passing on her cloak,
She froze to death & on the ice did choke.

John Ross
My love I buried in an unmark’d grave
Beside the bitter road, I curse him named
Bad Jackson, tho’ his better men did save
Our soveriegnity, that reptile shamed
His race, his word, his country & his law;
Whose false treaty’s sacred appellations
Us overwhelms, however we implore,
Re-iterated with protestations
That Worcester versus Georgia, ‘Thirty-Two,’
Annuls the Lo Va Sa, what can we do?

Hiawasee
The dark of night nears midpoint of the sky,
By dawn we’ll all be stars lost in fabric,
I’ve asked the Thunderboys the reason why
Life bedevils us torrid & tragic,
Diminish’d by Europe’s greedy vices,
Whose spirits only dance to drunken jigs,
When camst the Sioux we painted our faces,
But now the Judge of Battle’s wearing wigs,
Reducing us into this sorry state,
Too tired, too hungry am I them to hate.

John Ross
They came to us like locusts on the breeze,
Despoiling fields ancestors never spoil’d,
So many more shall cross the many seas
With all their hunger & their hates uncoil’d;
Alone, beside the moon, my spirit cries,
The graves of all our fathers leave behind,
But let us not regret this, lets devise
A better future fit to keep our kind,
If west of Mississippi must we be
Let us lead there, at least, our dignity.

Oukonunaka
The spiritwind our guide has always been,
From Galunlati blowing thro’ our hearts,
Just yesterday an Eaglesflight I’d seen –
A memory of when we lived apart,
But then I’d heard gunshots slay an eagle
& watch’d the possums gnaw it to the bone –
This dream replicated an illegal
& crude theft – posterity must atone
When an elected president shall be
Like me, at least, a portion Cherokee.


Scene 11: A ship – the crew are on deck singing

BANKS OF SACRAMENTO

A bully ship and a bully crew,
Doo-da! Doo-da!
A bully mate and a captain, too,
Doo-da! Doo-da-day!

Then blow, ye winds, hi-oh,
For Californ-i-o,
There’s plenty of gold, so I’ve been told,
On the banks of Sacramento!

Oh, heave, my lads, oh heave and sing,
Doo-da! Doo-da!
Oh, heave and make those oak sticks sing
Doo-da! Doo-da-day!

Then blow, ye winds, hi-oh,
For Californ-i-o,
There’s plenty of gold, so I’ve been told,
On the banks of Sacramento!

Oh, around the Horn we shipped to go,
Doo-da! Doo-da!
Around Cape Horn, through ice and snow
Doo-da! Doo-da-day!

Then blow, ye winds, hi-oh,
For Californ-i-o,
There’s plenty of gold, so I’ve been told,
On the banks of Sacramento!

Oh, around the Horn the mainsail set
Doo-da! Doo-da!
Around Cape Horn, we’re wringing wet
Doo-da! Doo-da-day!

Then blow, ye winds, hi-oh,
For Californ-i-o,
There’s plenty of gold, so I’ve been told,
On the banks of Sacramento!


SCENE 12: Busty’s Saloon Bar, Independence, Missouri

Bart Boone
Hey Boys! My Boys! They’ve found Eldorado,
Coloma soils be sparkling & aglow,
There’s so much gold the mules can hardly move,
The mines seem inexhaustable, they’ll prove
Enough there is for everyone’s desire,
One morning’s work & then we might retire,
A place call’d Sutter’s Mill I heard them say,
Across the West in Californ-I-A
I go tomorrow, boys, who’d like to share
The road by me, two’s better to beware.

Logan Morgan
America, land of our teeming dreams,
Her treasures lying open in the streams,
I read a letter only yesterday
That said as much, my old friend Thomas Grey,
Describin’ gold glitterin’ in sandbars,
As if the sky was wonderwick with stars,
There’s gold-dust drifting like the desert dunes,
He scoop’d up with his jack-knife & his spoons,
Tho’ dangerous & distant one might dare
A monetary miracle out there.

Wesley Wyatt
I’d love to go but, damn, how could I go?
I lost a leg with Lee down Mexico,
Your mining’s but a dog’s life, not for me
That hard, unrewarded monotony;
No letters comin’ in or goin’ out,
After a week yer mind’s w just spins with doubt
Of ever seeing womankind again,
Then one’s come sixty miles away, by train –
& so you’ll hike all day like mountain goats
To see her pretty-sitting petticoats.

Busty Adams
In that case boys I’m comin’ down as well,
A clever woman is the feather’d belle
That keeps such things together day-by-day,
Those men will need to eat, & they’ll right pay
Good money for a proper meal, & hot,
& other things I know that might be got;
& boys, ye’d better hurry to the feast,
For Chinamen & Hindoos from the East
Are sailin’ the Pacific as we speak,
Great fortune comes for those whom fortunes seek!

Preacher Virgil
The madness of our nation dost begin,
I urge ye not to join that ship of sin,
Such chaos offers caflugality
Via greed’s insatiable insanity,
As fathers & fiances leave the flock
Unguarded, evil here must run amok,
While far away tour menfolk retrograde
Thro’ gambling, drinking, swearing: a parade
Thro’ all the circles Dante did descend,
T’where Satan calls the sinner ‘only friend.’


SCENE 13: Philadelphia

Enter the Spirit of America

Spirit
As eighty thousand find a fresh abode
Out in the West, they’ll need a civil code;
Extending, there, Missouri’s compromise;
South of the Thirty-Six & Thirty lies
A lunacy of evil men in rows,
Perpetuating slavery, oppose
All poison to the life-blood of the South,
Who’d rip the tongue out of baby’s mouth
To stop it crying freedom; while they hold
The Senate, slaves in southern states are sold.

Enter Southern senators

“This is the long-postpon’d attack on rights
& property, with all its scurvy sleights,”
Drawl big mouths of the south, in unison,
America’s entangl’d opinion,
Says reckoning’s a-coming, high ideals
Clash with a stubborn business, which reveals
Hypocrits preaching in Jesus’s name
While keeping human cattle, whom to tame
Would beat to death, despite the sacred page
That urges universal love each age !

Presiding Officer of the Senate
The American Anti-Slavery Society will hear Mr William Lloyd Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison
Senators of America – you take your seats in this house under the flag of our great nation – but wherever our jurisdiction extends, wherever our flag floats, it is the flag of slavery. The stars are the chains & the stripes are the scourge. In truth, our flag should have the light of the stars & the streaks of the morning red erased from it; it should be dyed black, & upon it paint the whip & the fetter

More than fifty-seven years have elapsed since a band of patriots convened in this place, to devise measures for the deliverance of this country from a foreign yoke. The corner-stone upon which is founded the Temple of Freedom was broadly this—that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of happiness. At the sound of that trumpet-call, three millions of people rose up as from the sleep of death, and rushed to the strife of blood; deeming it more glorious to die instantly as freemen, than desirable to live one hour as slaves.—They were few in number—poor in resources; but the honest conviction that Truth, Justice, and Right were on their side, made them invincible.

But those, for whose emancipation we are striving,—constituting at the present time at least one-sixth part of our countrymen,—are recognised by the laws, and treated by their fellow beings, as marketable commodities—as goods and chattels—as brute beasts;—are plundered daily of the fruits of their toil without redress;—really enjoy no constitutional nor legal protection from licentious and murderous outrages upon their persons;—are ruthlessly torn asunder—the tender babe from the arms of its frantic mother—the heart-broken wife from her weeping husband—at the caprice or pleasure of irresponsible tyrants;—and, for the crime of having a dark complexion, suffer the pangs of hunger, the infliction of stripes, and the ignominy of brutal servitude. They are kept in heathenish darkness by laws expressly enacted to make their instruction a criminal offence.

The right to enjoy liberty is inalienable. We ust strive with every sinew of body & mind to overthrow the most execrable system of slavery that has ever been witnessed upon earth—to deliver our land from its deadliest curse—to wipe out the foulest stain which rests upon our national escutcheon—and to secure to the colored population of the United States all the rights and privileges which belong to them as men and as Americans—come what may to our persons, our interests, or our reputations—whether we live to witness the triumph of Justice, Liberty, and Humanity, or perish untimely as martyrs in this great, benevolent and holy cause.


SCENE 14: A Virginia Plantation

While slaves purify cotton in the kitchen, their overseers are playing a song

WAGON WHEEL

Heading down south to the land of the pines
I’m walking the coast into North Caroline
Staring at the road in the shadow of faeire farmlights
As I made it all the way thro’ wind, sun & showers
I pick me a bouquet of dogwood flowers
I’m a-hoping for Raleigh, I can see my baby tonight

So rock me mama like a wagon wheel
Rock me mama any way you feel
Hey mama rock me
Rock me mama like the wind and the rain
Rock me mama like a south bound train
Hey mama rock me

Running from the cold up in New England
I was born to be a fiddler in an old time string band
My baby plays guitar, I pick a banjo now
Oh, north country winters keep a-getting me down
Lost my money playing poker so I had to leave a-town
But I ain’t turning back to living that old life no more

So rock me mama like a wagon wheel
Rock me mama any way you feel
Hey mama rock me
Rock me mama like the wind and the rain
Rock me mama like a south bound train
Hey mama rock me

Moonshine running on Virginian sand
Stars lie dotted on the promised land
Now she’s been heading East since the Cumberland gap
From Johnson City, Tennessee
I got to get a move on ‘at the fall of the sun
My baby call my name an’know she’s the only one
And if I die in Raleigh I will die free

So rock me mama like a wagon wheel
Rock me mama any way you feel
Hey mama rock me
Oh rock me mama like the wind and the rain
Rock me mama like a south bound train
Hey hey mama rock me…

Enter the Spirit of America

Spirit
Where backwoodsmen croon songs in bad Saxon
A good gooselocker plucks tight fibres full,
Else face abundant lashings, score-on-score;
Rogue pickaninnie days bore long & dull,
Spread thirteen in a circle on a floor
‘Til corn-mush setting sun,
When owners’ damnable proclivity
For perfum’d, so velvety, soft-black skin –
Down Virginia way Negro rape’s no sin –
Conducted with strange sensitivity.

A baby, Evelina, is born to the cotton farmer & a female slave

The necessity of our biracial
Instinct for vital cross-pollination
Brings whites & blacks together, from them born
Beauties of Our future Human Nation,
Them call’d Mulatto! Hid from social scorn
‘Til dies her palatial
Father, she’ll soon discover she’s a slave,
Given to bottle-quaffing overseers
Unholiness, unhappiness for years,
‘Gan cutting sugar-cane until the grave.

Stars & Stripes: SCENES 15-17

SCENE 15: Virginia

Moses, a northern gentleman, is visiting an old student friend, Alexander, in the south. They are touring a plantation with another southern gentleman called Julius

Alexander
Welcome to my Lake Prasias, & I
Am Alexander, master of my mine,
Only a thousand acres of good land,
About a manor-house, situated fine,
A hundred negroes, & a spritely band
Of friends to pass time by
With a large lib’ry all I’ll ever need –
Down here slavery’s indispensable,
I find your ways incomprehensible,
My friend, we think it better to secede.

Julius
Aye, look at how the Cuffees smile & wave
Whenever we ride by them; ‘Nigger Jones
& Nigger Solomon, a fine morning
To y’all…’ Moses, the North’s propp’d up by loans
But all we hope for here, every dawning
Is work, freeman & slave;
Easy it seems to criticize our ways,
But this is how it works down here, & work
It definitely does, for who dare shirk
Beneath the sphinx that is their master’s gaze.

Moses
I beg your understanding my brothers,
But traveling the South my soul is strain’d
You say these men contented with their lot
But how can one seize change when one is chain’d?
I’m seeing, it seems, a Gordian Knot –
Me & worried mothers
Who fear the woeful sword-arm words of War,
Fearing betrayal of Christian feelings
Are hoping Senatorial dealings
All natural equalities restore.

Alexander
That may be what they’re thinkin’ with the frosts,
But struggle Blacks up there for rooves & food,
While here, in these Christian plantations,
The spirit from the savage is unglued,
Allowing its moral elevations;
Shining, living ripostes
To the sneerings of your superiors,
Unfortunately heavily misled,
A negro’s happy working & well fed,
Befitting intellect’s inferiors!

Moses
Alex, your peculiar institution,
I never can praise, if it does persist,
A fight there’ll be ’til slavery is drain’d
Of all its force (those lips they must be kiss’d,
Those peachy cheeks vermillion ingrain’d
My soul’s absolution!);
Brothers, who’s that fascinating slave-girl
With eyes of leaping deer? (Luminous rich
In me I feel that rampant red-hot itch
To see her hair’s long gloss without a curl!)

Spirit
‘Neath celestial gaze was Moses bent,
Begs his host to take home Evelina,
Of course this was refus’d in jiffin flash,
But when the man that all the world dost comb
Then soulmate finds, they’ll rabid be, & rash,
That night to her he went –
The door is open, the master away,
As Samson from his Gazan whore departs
At midnight, & the waiting trap outsmarts,
Let liberty flee from the barns today!

They eloped all night, Northerner & Slave,
He lustful, she sensing ends of despair,
Whose crime was race, her perfect facial hue,
To some a blatant shade more dark than fair,
As thro’ the swamps a fugitive she flew,
Down pathways wild & brave
Into the rugged space that loves the soul
They fled by night, by day they doss like mice,
With free & onward impulse flight did roll
Towards the Big North Star that leads to Paradise.

She steps into a blaze of sight & sound,
Bearded bounty hunters crawl every kerb,
New Bedford’s abolitionist stronghold
The machinations of the South perturb,
Whose graduates no longer can be sold,
Stood on this holy ground,
Diplomas etch-scarr’d in their very backs –
Just an hour since stepping off the carriage
A lady & her rescuer seal marriage
With sterile kiss, for now, til daylight starr’d.

They woke up lovers in a handsome bed,
He drew the flaxen curtains back, & wide,
Celebrating thrice, they’d outwitted
The South, will all its puerile poison pride;
& now them married, she manumitted,
So many tears were shed
Last night as she made love to him & love
It was, tho’ less desire & more to please
A ‘friend’ who’d saved her life… soft summer’s breeze
Indrifts thro’ large bay windows, from above.

DEAR EVELINA

Moses
Way down in the meadow where the lily first blows,
Where the wind from the mountains ne’er ruffles the rose;
Lives fond Evelina, the sweet little dove,
The pride of the valley, the girl that I love.
Dear Evelina, sweet Evelina,
My love for thee shall never, never die.
Dear Evelina, sweet Evelina,
My love for thee shall, never, never die.

She’s soft as a rose, like a lamb she is meek,
And she never was known to put paint on her cheek;
In the most graceful curls hangs her raven black hair,
And she never requires perfumery there.
Dear Evelina, sweet Evelina,
My love for thee shall never, never die.
Dear Evelina, sweet Evelina,
My love for thee shall, never, never die.

Evelina and I, one fine evening in June,
Took a walk all alone by the light of the moon.
The planets all shone, for the heavens were clear,
And I felt round the heart most tremendously queer.
Dear Evelina, sweet Evelina,
My love for thee shall never, never die.
Dear Evelina, sweet Evelina,
My love for thee shall, never, never die.

Three years have gone by, since the day that I saw her
& still every day I’ll do anything for her
Shes pretty & savvy, she’s cunning & clever
I’ve sworn that I’ll love her for ever and ever.
Dear Evelina, sweet Evelina,
My love for thee shall never, never die.
Dear Evelina, sweet Evelina,
My love for thee shall, never, never die.

Spirit
Fruit falls from flowing orchards, this nation
Bless’d with abundance, broad bays full of fish,
There are fiddles, music, there is dancing,
But there is future’s mad convulsive coil
Wrapp’d about a bulbous, prime-for-lancing
Boil, desperate to burst;
Parisians applauded Libertie
As we have too, but as a man begats
A child upon a woman, bureaucrats
Determine if that child enchain’d or free!

A storm is coming & the hour is late,
Lincoln’s stove pipe flung gladly to that ring,
Where clear majorities of each free state
Thro’ Electoral College crowns him king;
Inauguration day feels very wrong,
Sharpshooter rooves, groove cannons guard the grounds,
While raucous New Yorkers, one million strong,
Await the next day’s daily, as newshounds
Down-scribble Lincoln’s verbal bravery
“I’ll stand by my duty to end all slavery!”


SCENE 16: Washington DC

President Abraham Lincoln assembles his first cabinet meeting

Lincoln
Sate stoic in heroic cabinet,
A fine welcome gentlemen, each solid stone;
Like the schisming sons of Mahomet
Our country inharmonious has grown,
So let us ban all states from secession
Tho’ bloodshed leaves a streak’d red in its drag,
I would embrace my assassination
Before a single star torn from this flag –
The question of the slaves lets leave for now,
Until the South is muzzl’d – but, men, how?

William H Seward
Yes, Mr President, live up to we must
The requirements of these higher stations,
Held with grave honour & the nation’s trust,
Push rivalries aside, & pretensions,
Press thro’ the resulting referendum
That set ye first among us to unseat
Dark princes of bondage, we shall send ’em
Back to Hell, daemon rebels in defeat,
When nothing short of total victory
Shall set this nation’s future truly free

V.P. Hannibal Hamlin
Gentlemen, gentlemen, be careful please,
The South’s fighting spirit mighty vicious,
Their politicians ruthless with real ease,
Cold as lizards, Lucifer ambitious,
Determin’d to found future settlements
More than lily-white, each stagnating pool,
For this lets stand, at last, like statesmen hence,
Drag fickle, eager mischief to life’s school,
From lounging on verandas in the shade
Perpetuating slavery’s dog-craz’d trade.

Salmon P Chaise
Tho’ nations may off-tangent time to time
Are strain’d vendettas better to avoid?
When understanding duty flows sublime
Thro’ dangerous intensities employ’d,
The South’s fire-eating nationalism
Doth hurry them for wars in golden glee,
Happy to contend a cataclysm
From whose sure slaughter all the old ghosts flee,
Whom each midwinter Valley Forge convene
In phantom conversations flesh unseen.

Lincoln
This union perpetual – it is so!
No state has any right to self-withdraw,
Let our stern protestations melt the snow
Which covers up the South’s unsacred flaw,
That is to make a newborn babe a slave –
For this they’d carve the land’s vivisection
Let passions rage on heart’s shore wave on wave –
Better that mystic memories’ affection,
Patriot-forg’d on battlefields so young,
Compose a common chorus, by all-comers sung.

Enter the Spirit of America

Spirit
There’ll be no going back, this damag’d land
A mad experiment gone badly wrong,
Must push some reset button – understand
There’ll be no slave-hymns in its unborn song,
Now enter Lee, a general by name,
Pacing Arlington’s corridors perplex’d,
A Union command was his for fame,
To take it, tho’, his soul grows heavy vex’d,
& knows his sword could never draw in arms
Against native Virginian towns & farms.


SCENE 17: The Front

Enter General Lee at the head of the Confederate Army

THE SOUTHERN WAGON

General Lee
Come, all ye sons of freedom, and join our Southern band,
We are going to fight the enemy and drive them from our land.
Justice is our motto and providence our guide,
So jump on the wagon, and we’ll all take a ride.

Wait for the wagon! The dissolution wagon!
The South is the wagon, and we’ll all take a ride.
Wait for the wagon! The dissolution wagon!
The South is the wagon, and we’ll all take a ride.

Secession is our watchword, our rights we all demand;
To defend our family, we pledge our hearts and hands;
Jeff Davis is our president, with Stephens by his side;
Brave Beauregard, our General, will join us in the ride.
Wait for the wagon! The dissolution wagon!
The South is the wagon, and we’ll all take a ride.
Wait for the wagon! The dissolution wagon!
The South is the wagon, and we’ll all take a ride.

Our wagon is big enough, the running gear is good;
Stuffed ’round the sides with cotton, and made of Southern wood.
Carolina is the driver, with Georgia by her side,
Virginia holds the flag up, and we’ll all take a ride.
Wait for the wagon! The dissolution wagon!
The South is the wagon, and we’ll all take a ride.
Wait for the wagon! The dissolution wagon!
The South is the wagon, and we’ll all take a ride.

There are Tennessee and Texas also in the ring;
They wouldn’t have a government where cotton wasn’t king.
Alabama and Florida have long ago replied;
Mississippi and Louisiana are anxious for the ride.
Wait for the wagon! The dissolution wagon!
The South is the wagon, and we’ll all take a ride.
Wait for the wagon! The dissolution wagon!
The South is the wagon, and we’ll all take a ride.

North Carolina and Arkansas are slow,
They must hurry or we’ll leave e’m and then where would they go?
Kentucky and Maryland each won’t make up their mind,
So I reckon after all we’ll have to take e’m up behind.
Wait for the wagon! The dissolution wagon!
The South is the wagon, and we’ll all take a ride.
Wait for the wagon! The dissolution wagon!
The South is the wagon, and we’ll all take a ride.

Tennessee Missouri are eager for the fray;
They can whip the Yankee boys three to one, they say;
And when they get in conflict with Davis by their side,
They’ll pitch into the Yankee boys and then you’ll see them slide.
Wait for the wagon! The dissolution wagon!
The South is the wagon, and we’ll all take a ride.
Wait for the wagon! The dissolution wagon!
The South is the wagon, and we’ll all take a ride.

Exit the Confederates / Enter the Union army led by Stonewall Jackson

THE BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC

Stonewall Jackson
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps,
His day is marching on.

I have read His fiery gospel writ in rows of burnished steel!
“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you My grace shall deal!
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,”
Since God is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him; be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me;
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free!
While God is marching on.

Spirit
The stumbling, fumbling Union advance
To meet the foe in blood’s effusion cold,
Upon the field men take a handsome stance,
With limbs & hearts so beautiful & bold,
But stop! What is that sound that stuns the soul,
Like feedback from a concert’s microphones,
The rebel foxhunt yell, the banshee squall,
Driving corkscrew sensations up backbones,
Enhastening the deaths of razzl’d youth,
Via carnage raging, chastening, uncouth.

Enter the charging Confederates / battle begins

Spirit
The national edifice is on fire,
At last the past is heap’d upon a pyre
Those utterances of grief & despair
First heard at Manassas’ murderous maul
Transmorph into clarions everywhere,
“Fight for your country, boys, men heed the call!”
Up in the North the Stars & Stripes are flown
From home to home, ‘the flag that makes you free,’
Sing epauletted brothers to the zone
Of war, fateful days face futurity,
As manacle still into human bites
God’s truth filling with anima of knights
At Shiloh fandango daffodillies,
One hundred thousand cramm’d in tension taut,
Tennessee’s dense, tense, teocallic woods
Explode with unexpected confrontations,
Sickening spectacles, kill or be kill’d,
Until Night’s onset halts halts this cranage crude
Hawks schnibbling into mangl’d death-bed flesh.

Enter Thomas, a Union Soldier, who finds the body of James, his comrade, on the field

Thomas
I am a soldier and my speech is rough and plain
I’m not much used to writing and I hate to give you pain
But I promised I would do it and he thought it might be so
If it came from one who loved him it perhaps would ease the blow
& by this time you must have guessed the truth I fain will hide
And you’ll pardon me for rough soldier words while I tell you how he died

It was in the mortal battle, it rained the shot and shell
I was standing close beside him and I saw him when he fell
So I took him in my arms and laid him on the grass
It was going against orders but they thought to let it pass

James
“This day I wanted so to live, I seemed so young to go.
This week I passed my birthday. I was just nineteen, you know.
When I thought of all I planned to do it seemed so hard to die
But now I pray to God for grace and all my cares gone by.”

Thomas
And here his voice grew weaker as he partly raised his head
And whispered

James
“Goodbye, mother,” and your soldier boy was dead

Thomas
I carved another headboard as skillful as I could
And if you wish to find it I can tell you where it stood
I send you back his hymn book and the cap he used to wear
The lock I cut the night before of his bright, curly hair
I send you back his Bible. In the hour before he died
I turned its leaves together and read it by his side
I’ll keep the belt he was wearing, he told me so to do
It had a hole upon the side just where the ball went through

So now I’ve done his bidding, there’s nothing more to tell
But I shall always mourn with you the boy we loved so well

Stars & Stripes: SCENES 18-21

Scene 18: Washington

President Lincoln reads the Emancipation Declaration

Abraham Lincoln
I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves in the said and designated states and parts of states are and henceforward shall be free; and that the executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognise and maintain the freedom of said persons. And I hereby enjoin on the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases where allowed, they labour faithfully for reasonable wages. And I further declare and make known that such persons, of suitable condition, will be received into the armed services of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.


SCENE 19: A village in the South

The Emancipation Declaration is being read to the people. Enter the Spirit of America

Spirit
Across the South the Proclamation read,
In cinereous quarters songs uprise,
Their former masters filling guns with lead
Dreading what lurks behind valiant eyes;
“Today you may go ‘soever you please,”
A mother leans her childrens’ heads to kiss,
Close by an old man sinks on work-chapp’d knees,
Counting the angels with arm-reaching bliss;
The day they’d fear’d they’d never live to see
Shines all about in perfect ecstasy!

The gates flung open, the Black Man enlists,
The First Louisiana rais’d the flag,
Most passionate anti-seccessionists,
Ready to stand & die for the dog-tag;
Impress on the world a cuttleaxe kind of tough
As ancient as the sands of Africa,
Gone storming Port Hudson’s foeheld hairpin bluff,
Bloodshed imbibing, one tribe together,
But part of something greater, to release
Egregious dogs, & leave the land at peace!

Enter the First Louisiana

GIVE US A FLAG

Oh, Fremont he told them when the war it first begun
How to save the Union and the way it should be done
But Kentucky swore so hard and Old Abe he had his fears
Till ev’ry hope was lost but the colored volunteers

Chorus
Oh, give us a flag
All free without a slave;
We’ll fight to defend it as our fathers did so brave;
The gallant Comp’ny “A”
Will make the rebels dance
And we’ll stand by the Union if we only have a chance

McClellan went to Richmond with two hundred thousand brave;
He said, “Keep back the n***ers” and the Union he would save;
Little Mac he had his way, still the Union is in tears
Now they call for the help of the colored volunteers

Chorus

Old Jeff says he’ll hang us if we dare to meet him armed
A very big thing , but we are not at all alarmed;
For he first has got to catch us before the way is clear
And that is “what’s the matter” with the colored volunteer

Chorus

So rally, boys, rally, let us never mind the past;
We had a hard road to travel, but our day is coming fast;
For God is for the right, and we have no need to fear
The Union must be saved by the colored volunteer

Chorus

Then here is to the 54th, which has been nobly tried
They were willing, they were ready, with their bayonets by their side
Colonel Shaw led them on and he had no cause to fear
About the courage of the colored volunteer

Chorus


SCENE 20: Gettysburg

Enter General Lee at the head of the Confederate army

DIXIE

I wish I was in the land of cotton,
Old times there are not forgotten;
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.

In Dixie’s Land where I was born in,
Early on one frosty mornin,
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.

I wish I was in Dixie, Hooray! Hooray!
In Dixie’s Land I’ll take my stand
to live and die in Dixie.

Away, away, away down south in Dixie.
Away, away, away down south in Dixie.

Old Missus marry “Will the weaver,”
Willium was a gay deceiver;
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.

And when he put his arm around ‘er,
He smiled as fierce as a forty-pounder,
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.

I wish I was in Dixie, Hooray! Hooray!
In Dixie’s Land I’ll take my stand
to live and die in Dixie.

Away, away, away down south in Dixie.
Away, away, away down south in Dixie.

I wish I was in Dixie, Hooray! Hooray!
In Dixie’s Land I’ll take my stand
to live and die in Dixie.

Away, away, away down south in Dixie.
Away, away, away down south in Dixie.

Now here’s to the health to the next ole Missus
An’ all the gals that want to kiss us;
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land

And if you want to drive away sorrow
Come and hear our song tomorrow
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.

I wish I was in Dixie, Hooray! Hooray!
In Dixie’s Land I’ll take my stand
to live and die in Dixie.

Away, away, away down south in Dixie.
Away, away, away down south in Dixie.

Dar’s buckwheat cakes an Injun batter,
Makes your fat a little fatter;
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.

Then hoe it down and scratch your gravel,
To Dixie’s Land I’m bound to travel.
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.

I wish I was in Dixie, Hooray! Hooray!
In Dixie’s Land I’ll take my stand
to live and die in Dixie.

Away, away, away down south in Dixie.
Away, away, away down south in Dixie.

Enter the Spirit of America

Spirit
Warring most audacious rode famous Lee,
Conspiring to break the enemy’s back,
To smash the Army of the Potomac,
Inflicting wrath divine, terminally!
A Copperhead officer rumors heard,
“At Gettysburg good shoes in good supply,”
There led his men & with this cast the die,
The day of greatest death no more deferr’d
Thro cowtail fields, where bare a bumble stirr’d,
‘Neath Lutheran cupola scraping sky!

As phlegm erupts from mankind’s waking throats,
Two lines are drawn like sabres heaving sand,
On Cemetery Ridge plunges the stand
Of Union boys up-buttoning coats,
Tied all together like a bridge of boats,
Ready to face whate’er the day’s demand;
Steady in cause & combat – two eyes scann’d
The scene… says Confederate Colonel Oates,
Seeing Roundtops as yet undefended,
“Seize the heights, this war might soon be ended!”


SCENE 21: Gettysburg: The Confederate lines

General Lee has made his headquarters at a stone house on Seminary Ridge.

Walter H Taylor
I have dire news most uncouth to report
From Rummel Farm, where Stuart’s horse have lost
All speed & all surprise, our handsome cost,
A stand-off full of slaughter as a sport,
Where Custer’s flame-hair’d screams fill every ear
“Come on you Wolverines!” – his sabre rais’d
Has stopp’d us dear, chopp’d down our endeavor,
Leaving intact the enemy’s ridg’d rear,
Their forces are compact, alert, unphas’d –
Attacking now might not be so clever.

General Lee
Let us attack, for in our boys we trust,
The Army of Northern Virginia
Has pomell’d foes one after another
Who dared to stand against a cause so just,
Our cannon claws crust, when we shall thrust
Into their heart a dagger, deliver
A blow so lethal the world will shiver,
A blow that shall forever be discuss’d,
For when I’ve ask’d my boys to charge this day
They did, ‘those men were heroes,’ men will say.

James Longstreet
This bodes not well, a hurricane awaits,
That line could withstand fifteen thousand men,
When Pickett, untried Pickett, has just ten,
To test their guns would only dissipate
Our strength, I say, sir, turn back from the gate.
Lee: We must attack, & if not now then when?
The Army of the Potomac a hen
Plump for plucking & cooking on a grate,
& then, with Lincoln’s sword from flay’d hands pris’d,
He’ll sue for peace, with that the South baptized!

Walter H Taylor
Lieutenant, take this down so none forgets,
Our troops are passing the Emmitsburg Road,
In tatter’d grey butternut coats they strode,
A glittering forest of bayonets!
All whom, before this humid sunshine sets,
Shall glory cover thickly, rights restor’d;
But what is this deadly discharg’d discord,
Us-withering with vicious, threatful frets…
Fleeing that wall of artillery fire,
It seems, for war, men no more show desire!

General Lee
Wait… wait… wait…….. some reach Cemetery Hill,
This day might yet be ours in many ways,
Wait… wait… alas… it seems… thro’ clearing haze,
Of death & slaughter all have had their fill,
Blame me for these calamities occur’d,
But all of this this will come right in the end,
We’ll talk it over afterwards, ’til then
Cry, ‘all good men must rally,’ spread the word
Along the lines, a new line to defend,
As I ride out to greet my bravest men!

General Pickett leads his men into the carnage – the Battle of Getysburg ends / Enter Lincoln checking the corpses / the bodies are cleaned / a platform is built on the field / men & women arrive in civilian dress

THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS

Abraham Lincoln
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Enter the Spirit of America

Spirit
The glory of the Gettysburg Address,
Forever steadfast, cleverly worded,
Was, in the pauses, five times applauded,
When good folk felt America’s caress
In heart – one soul in all the laws they bless,
Never has there been a speech so lauded;
Never has the truth been so well order’d,
They heard it in the South – where soon, God Bless,
Peace granted precious liberty each slave,
In the Land of the Free & the Home of the Brave.

Enter Joseph Rodman Drake

Joseph Rodman Drake
WHEN Freedom from her mountain height
Unfurled her standard to the air,
She tore the azure robe of night,
And set the stars of glory there.
She mingled with its gorgeous dyes
The milky baldric of the skies,
And striped its pure celestial white,
With streakings of the morning light;

Flag of the brave! thy folds shall fly,
The sign of hope and triumph high,
Flag of the seas! on ocean wave
Thy stars shall glitter o’er the brave;
Flag of the free heart’s hopes and dreams
For ever float thyandard sheet!
With Freedom’s soil beneath our feet,
And Freedom’s banner oer us streams.

ENTER ALL

STAR-SPANGLD’ BANNER

Oh say can you see,
By the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed,
At the twilight’s last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars,
Through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched,
Were so gallantly streaming.

And thy rocket’s red glare,
Thy bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through thee night,
That our flag was still there.

Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

And where is that band
who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war
and the battle’s confusion

A home and a Country
should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out
their foul footstep’s pollution.

No refuge could save
the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight
or the gloom of the grave.

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.