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The South Rose

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You know hindsight is 20/20. There was a time in this country’s history where the South contributed a huge amount of revenue to the “republic” and there were northerers that didn’t want it stopped. When human rights won out (as it should have), we had a civil war.

The North Won. They won the right to free the slaves, they won the right to chastise the South. But they couldn’t understand the mindset and still don’t. That is evidenced by the vocal and often vitriolic spewing against the Confederate flag. It is evidenced by the fact that if you aren’t FROM the South you cannot understand the mindset.

The South was a gentler and more civilized place. Now I will be told that slavery doesn’t exactly qualify for civilized. But you have to take history like you find it. Kinda like “In God We Trust” on the money. It was a place where people, even slaves, took pride in their place in it. I know that because I have talked to some of their descendants. I don’t condone for a moment the treatment that some slaves endured at the hands of slaveowners. I know that they were used manually, sexually, and in every other way.

But the South, with its good and bad is part of our history in this country. I revere the rebel flag not because it is affront to slaves, but because is is a cornerstone of the South. I give you this, which you will take or not as your conscience dictates:

A Woman’s Place

1863…

A grace and charm unequalled
in the universe, defiant of
distant blasts growing louder
With the dawn of each new day.

Ladies hum their sweetest lullabies
Which drift on dense air
too hot for hoops and petticoats
they would never go without.

Intoxicating fragrance of
magnolia mixed with jasmine
slightly soured by the rancid hint
of sulphur expelled by cannon’s fire.

At setting sun, the haunting wail
of spirituals sung by voices tired
from the fields, while bleeding hands
are salved for endless picking,

A harvest moon softens peeling paint
on stately homes whose columns stand
in pride and passion for a world
a part but separate from its surrounds.

Like salt and pepper, children
complement the landscape as they play
together, virgin minds unfettered
by society’s misconcerns.

Unspoken fears gagged down
by steely resolve to tend homefires
With hands made rough by new routine,
And eyes made bright by unspilled tears.

A stage left whisper of prayers bombard
the night begging safety for the men
long gone to war, prepared to die
defending honor and a principle held dear.

She stands unwavering with open arms
made stronger by the conflict, embracing
the living and the dead returned
from hell to a world forever changed.

2003…

The picture of a final hug made by
sticky hands, and cherry kiss goodbye with
wanting lips as she goes off to fulfill
the oath she took considered sacred.

She feigns no blissful ignorance
since constant coverage assaults the waves
reporting triumphs, terror, tyranny and
trepidation, brought home by the embedded.

Sweet songs to tape recorder now running slow
with waning batteries and grit, her effort
made to fool the young who know naught but
that their mommy’s gone away to do her job.

Tasting pride mixed with chagrin,
A bittersweet concoction confused by
stated purpose and true intent which
impacts neither her duty nor her resolve.

Devouring crayola letters full of love,
she holds tight to her conviction and pride
that for many oppression’s ended, while
wiping tears in face of glaring pain and need.

Anger and resentment simmers as she stands
her post while politicians seek to sway the
masses on the right or wrong of actions
undertaken, driven by agendas full of self.

Despair over lines which in the past
seemed much more clear, but in truth,
are still the same for those who do their
job and seek to foster peace and freedom.

Satisfied with personal prayer which
cannot be made in public, that the gods
return her back to those who need her
as the very air they breathe.

She stands unwavering with open arms
made stronger by the conflict, embracing
the living and crying for the dead returned
from hell to a world forever changed.

copyright 2004, Claire Robinson, All Rights Reserved

For some, women will always be insignificant, it is nothing new. They will be the pawns of society. For others, women have had a huge impact on history. I hope this exexmplies it.

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About Claire

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    It was a place where people, even slaves, took pride in their place in it. I know that because I have talked to some of their descendants. I don’t condone for a moment the treatment that some slaves endured at the hands of slaveowners. I know that they were used manually, sexually, and in every other way.

    And yet somehow, these slaves took pride in their place as property to be used at the owners’ discretion and to be denied basic human rights, such as, say, dignity or freedom.

    Puhleeze.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Oh, and btw, my head is about to explode from the sheer inanity of this post. That southern nobility bullshit is just plain tired — yes, it’s so fucking genteel to own other human beings and abuse them.

    And it’s the “Yankees” that just don’t get it, right?

  • andy marsh

    I actually had a friend back in the 70’s from NC.

    I spent the weekend with him and his famlily once…met his great-great-grandmother…lady was over 100. These folks lived on the land that was left to them by the person that had once “owned” them.

    The story that I was told was that after slavery was abolished, his family stayed and continued to work for this doctor. When he died he left everything he had to this family. They owned a couple hundred acres of tobacco fields, but were just plain good southern folks. Treated this Yankee like they had known me my whole life!

    I imagine that this IS the exception rather than the rule, but it does happen.

  • Claire

    bhw…yes, many did. You are trying to apply “todays” mindset to a time when it was all that was known. Many of them were very proud of their “contribution” to the place they lived and worked, and their contribution during the war. It is heinous in retrospect, certainly. But the poem reflects that…and just how much change has been made…thats a good thing, yes?

    Claire

  • Claire

    Handing you a cool washrag and an aspirin. bhw…you are either misunderstanding me, or just want to pick a fight, which is fine too….;)

    I am talking about HISTORY, not right and wrong, but HISTORY as we found it. We have been so inculcated with Roots mindset…which is just and right NOW, but that is all hindsight. History, and how the life of a southern woman has changed, black OR white….

    Here, rest your head :)

    Claire

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Claire, you can’t look back on the kinder, gentler South without realizing that it was a FACADE built upon the backs of human beings. All that gentle nobility was just bourgeois bullshit — it couldn’t be anything but corrupted because of how it came about.

    Go ahead and wax nostalgic about the South if you must, but don’t be surprised when other people don’t get a tear in their eye for the good ol’ Confederate flag, the “cornerstone of the South” that was fashioned upon the labor of slaves.

    Did it ever occur to you that the slaves took pride in their “work” BECAUSE THAT WAS ALL THEY HAD? [Hint, that’s not really a good thing!] Their children and spouses were sold away from them, they had no freedom, they were not allowed to learn to read or write: all they had was WORK. Their pride, if it existed, reflects on THEM and their character and NOT on the so-called gentle or “more civilized” nature of the south before the Civil War.

    So yes, you’re right that people in the North just “don’t get” why Southerners still pine away for a false aristocracy that was built on the dehumanization of an entire group of people.

  • Claire

    Thank you bhw….I frankly, don’t care whether they get a tear in their eye or not. History is history, My best and most convincing writing won’t change it. It is what it is. And to use a cliche….we have come a long way.

    Claire

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Yes, Claire, history is history. But why do you have such nostalgia for a time and place that was so unjust?

  • Claire

    There have been many things, many areas, and many injustices in this country’s history. This one happened in my backyard, so I am sensitive to it, revere the lessons it taught us, revile anyone who tries to take away the symbols of it, and will fight to keep it alive. It is my heritage, for the good or bad, it IS my heritage…just like the injustices in Ireland and France are my heritage. Putting a pretty face on history doesn’t change it. Learning from it does.

    Claire

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    It seems to me that you’re the one putting a pretty face on the pre-Civil War South, by characterizing it as “gentler and more civilized” [than what, I’m not exactly sure]. And then you toss in something that amounts to, “heck, even the slaves were proud of their place!”

    Come on….

  • Claire

    Bhw…its fine! if you cannot read the poem and discern the point of this…then thats fine…Im not an arm twister. I said my piece. Women, both black and white have made huge strides….are they for the better, I think they are. You take from it what you will…you obviously disagree, and that is your right. 1st amendment and all…

    Claire

  • boomcrashbaby

    Claire, are you talking about the southern value of hospitality where you say hello to everyone you pass, where men threw their coats over mud puddles, and if a stranger knocks on your door because his carriage broke down, you offer him some good cookin before he sets out to fix the carriage, etc.?

    There is nothing wrong with longing for those values. American history is perceived by many people, in many different ways. You got that hospitality as long as you fit a certain mold, Claire.

    Not limited to the slavery, but including that as bad, effeminate men, unmarried spinsters, the near complete genocide of Native American races, immigrants (of non-European origin) being frequent targets of blacklists and violence, etc.

    Many people will not view American history, especially Southern history without taking it in it’s totality.

    But the values you wish for, if they could apply to us all in this day and age, that would definitely be a utopia I would welcome.

    Your poetry is beautiful, although I would take issue with the one statement that you cannot say a prayer in public. I posted a poem I wrote here once. Killed the thread.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Yes, Claire, I *obviously* disagree that women have made huge strides.

  • http://eclaire.wsmcafe.com Claire Robinson

    Boom…I obviously don’t ask anyone to take in history without taking in its totality. And Yes, we must obviously disgree on the strides women have made….wonder why that is?

    Claire

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Um, sarcasm?

  • Claire

    I left out the “bhw” before the “we obviously disgree on the strides women have made”…..

    Boom, we have a disagreement on what I “wish for” I haven’t said it…I haven’t espoused it, and you don’t know it.

    Bhw and I obviously disagree on many things, which is good debate….even thought we a diametrically opposed in our thoughts….

    Boom, I think we have a measure of some agreement, somewhere, I just am not sure what it is yet…

    Claire

  • Claire

    bhw….no sarcasm…fact.

    Claire

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    No, *I* was being sarcastic when I implied that I didn’t think women had made strides. I had not even addressed the issue of women in particular. The topic I was addressing was the nostalgia for the pre-Civil War South.

  • boomcrashbaby

    I was asking if those values were what you wished for.

    I didn’t say anything about the strides women have made, although I do think there has been progress.

    In terms of everybody enjoying their ‘place’ (and specifically women) back then, most women in my immediate family long for that too. I am from Okla. (even still have the midwest accent after all these years). All the women in my family are there, having lived there for generations. They long for the day when a man would open their car door, they could be stay-at-home moms, like June Cleaver, etc. all those old values.

    My mom (God rest her soul) would call me nightly, in tears, with horror stories of the sexual harassment her boss gave her. The next generation (my sisters) often tell me similar things but not as drastic. 3 of the 4 women in my family are/were single parents who did all they could do legally to get the fathers to support the child. Didn’t pan out and they were/are screwed by deadbeats.

    So yes, women have legal recourse now for equality, but the societal imbalance would still exist to make many women long for the day when all they had to do was run home and hearth. (None of them wanted to drag the kids through court battles and my mom was too ‘old school’ to go to court for the harassment charges.)

    Basically, everyone I’ve ever known who has longed for the past, it’s stemmed from unhappiness in the here and now. That should NOT apply to anybody else who feels that way, I don’t know anybody else and i’m not making claims about anybody else, just the women I know personally. And frankly, I would probably feel the same way, in their shoes.

  • boomcrashbaby

    In terms of the ‘gentler and more civilized’ South that you are referring to, while I don’t agree that the values apply to the South collectively, but rather as just a small part of the values of the South, I do know of the values you speak of, and I do wish they were universal.