The New York Times is running a Reuters picture with its coverage of the slaughter in the Russian school (200 or more killed?) earlier today: a woman caressing the head of a bandaged child on a stretcher who appears to be dead. The scene brought Walt Whitman’s “The Wound-Dresser” to mind:
“… Bearing the bandages, water and sponge,
Straight and swift to my wounded I go,
Where they lie on the ground after the battle brought in,
Where their priceless blood reddens the grass, the ground,
Or to the rows of the hospital tent, or under the roof’d hospital,
To the long rows of cots up and down each side I return,
To each and all one after another I draw near, not one do I miss,
An attendant follows holding a tray, he carries a refuse pail,
Soon to be fill’d with clotted rags and blood, emptied, and fill’d again. …”
One Reply to “That Russian School”
Dan: I’ll try this again. Looking at the photo in the NY Times http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/03/international/europe/03CND-RUSS.html?hp brought to mind the images of Michelangelo’s two pietas, works which catch images of grief and suffering at their most intimate. I’m not able to find any (good) reproductions of the sculptures so these will have to suffice.
The photo in the Times makes me think that Michelangelo was on to something when he did these works; that he probably saw some awful suffering in his lifetime. They (the photo and the sculptures) transcend the nature the suffering they depict and go right to the heart of the human condition; a place where grief no longer finds ariculation, where only deep and inexpressable sadness reside.