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So UD woke up this morning and, thinking how she might frame this second part of her account of her visit yesterday to the grave of a person she never met (see post immediately below this one for Part One), she decided to let her musical mind focus hard on the visit.

To what music would her consciousness, subconscious, unconscious, take her if she set all her pistons firing in the direction of Laurie’s grave, broad sunlight, the fallen city, forgiveness, suffering?

Well, here’s where she went, instantly.

And in particular to the song’s first verse:


All of the riverboat gamblers are losing their shirts
All of the brave union soldier boys sleep in the dirt
But you know and I know there never was reason to hurt
When all of our lives were entwined to begin with

Maybe it’s not surprising that she went to that song and that singer. Steve Goodman was, like Laurie, a brilliant Jew who suffered and died before his time. And the question the song poses – Why do people hurt each other so much when their lives after all are entwined to begin with? – is right on the money. Plus of course there’s the morbid business of the brave soldiers sleeping in the dirt…

UD found herself thinking also about the “mystery” vs. “muddle” business in E M Forster’s Passage to India. If you don’t visit the grave, if you settle on all that personal history being a muddle and not a mystery, you are enabled to avoid, all your life, confrontations with that past and your part in it, and the question of whether you’ve made any progress beyond hurting and being hurt. After all, who knows. It’s all a muddle.

But if one hot summer afternoon you find yourself actually standing at the grave, reading aloud the two things that your Israeli friend Janet suggested you read, and placing on top of the gravestone one of your prized calcite-lined beach stones on which you’ve taped a thin piece of paper with these words on it —

One evening she surprised us by belting out “Amazing Grace,” every note pitch perfect.

— taken from a memorial essay two old friends of hers wrote… If you find yourself doing all of that, trying to puzzle out not only the story of this brilliant and thwarted life, this over-richness lying in a plot for the poor, but also your weird feeling that you are somehow implicated in the story (when the only thing that ever happened between me and Laurie was her replacing me in the affections of David Kosofsky), things have obviously progressed from muddle to mystery.

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4 Responses to “UD’s Sunday Pilgrimage: Part Two.”

  1. Dame Eleanor Hull Says:

    I’m glad you got there. Remembering our dead is important. So is the act of pilgrimage.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Thank you, Dame Eleanor. I agree that the pilgrimage is as important as being there and remembering. I plan to go back – it turns out that it’s about a mile walk from a metro station.

  3. Janet Gool Says:

    Hope the readings were meaningful to you.

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    They were perfectly chosen – thank you! M.

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