Wandl ich in dem Wald des Abends,
In dem träumerischen Wald,
Immer wandelt mir zur Seite
Deine zärtliche Gestalt.
Ist es nicht dein weißer Schleier?
Nicht dein sanftes Angesicht?
Oder ist es nur der Mondschein,
Der durch Tannendunkel bricht?
Sind es meine eignen Tränen,
Die ich leise rinnen hör?
Oder gehst du, Liebste, wirklich
Weinend neben mir einher?
—By Heinrich Heine
I felt the need to go with another Emma Lazarus translation because of my trip today to the Statue of Liberty and to Ellis Island. Nearly a hundred years after her birth (one hundred after Goethe's) and 200 after Herder's Max I. Baym wrote of Ms. Lazarus as “A Neglected Translator of Italian Poetry” (Italica Vol. 21, No. 4, 1944).
“The New Colossus” (1883)
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
It's almost a benevolent, beautiful rather than sublime imitation of “Ozymandias.”
And when I think of Colossus I have to think of that heroic X-Man who sacrificed himself years ago in publication time but only a year or two ago at most in “comic time,” ... the character who was brought back not too long ago, and you know, while it was an even worse retcon than the rebirth of Jean Grey, it worked, because Kitty's relationship (on-and-off) with him is one of the things that made her work as a character, and she'd been gone too long. The return (and good writing) of Kitty Pryde was worth the retcon, I'd say.
So say we all.
But enough of the comics for now. I have a new Ms. Marvel to read, there's a new issue of The Loners, a somewhat throw-away side-project from Marvel (a limited series at that), and issue 5 (of 7) of the Marvel adaptation/interpretation of Stephen King's Dark Tower is out ... and as usual, expect the art to be beautiful.
Today Jy and I got up early, had a great, cheap 2-egg breakfast down at the corner of Broadway and 108th (mmm ... coffay ... and refills), and headed downtown, all the way downtown, to the end of the line so we could catch an early ferry out to Ellis and Liberty islands. The ferry is $11.50 for adults (no student prices: boo), but the islands themselves (run by the Park Service) are “free.” To go into the Statue of Liberty, though, you need to get a free “Monument Pass,” which is good during a certain time on a certain day. They try to limit it to 2800 or so people per day to reduce traffic in the statue and its museum.
The first stop was Liberty island but we continued on to Ellis, since we couldn't use our passes until 10:45. At Ellis island we took a free tour by a retired Advertising professor from Georgia who now works as a park ranger, and since our group was small he could go off on tangents and take us to smaller rooms where larger groups of 30, 40, or 50 would not fit (we were 7). I could go on and on about his tales, about the facts about the island and immigration experiences, about the people he'd met who had entered the country decades ago through the Ellis island facility (it closed in 1954) and who had returned and told tales (the Spanish guy who immigrated in 1921, the Greek guy in 1922, and the woman in 1929 [nationality forgotten]), but I won't. To limit myself to one anecdote, butchered, I guess it was the Spanish guy, who evidently, now in his 90s, greatly resembles the ex-professor's father, so they had pictures taken together. The Spanish guy ended up serving in the Pacific in WWII, and particularly, toward the end, as part of the ground grew for the Enola Gay, and while there on the island he met the plane's crew and it turned out that he and one of the guys grew up in the same town (after the Spanish guy had immigrated, that is) ... one of those typical “small world” stories.
After our tour we headed off to Liberty island and ended up waiting in line for the ferry with a tour group of old people from Sioux Falls, S.D. On our first ferry trip there was a school trip from Hawaii (4th graders? 6th graders? they seemed too short for the latter; too mature for the fomer ... who knows or cares?) and later in the afternoon, on our way back, we saw a red-shirted group that seemed to be a school trip from Wisconsin. After making it through the obnoxiously long, drawn out security process on Liberty island we got into the statue complex, into the museum, and from there we climbed 156 steps to the observation level. Before descending, after going back inside and away from the bright afternoon sun, we let our eyes adjust, which led me, somehow, to talking to the park ranger on duty, who is from Louisiana but doesn't have the accent, and whose husband is a Red Sox fan. She gave us information on when it's best to visit (no help to us now), and told more tales about the statue and the reasons for why the status itself (not the base) is closed and will remain so, with 9/11 just being the final straw.
After a long day on the islands we headed back to Manhattan and decided to walk around the Financial District and Wall Street (going up Broad St. to get there). Along the way: the NY Stock Exchange, the Federal Building, and the über-cool Trinity Church. Trinity is not cool because of the church itself. It's rather typical, plain, just an example of the style, but when we walked in a guy in an all-white suit sat in the front playing the organ, and not just any church organ music, but the Indiana Jones theme. Loudly. Proudly. Not too badly. He followed it up with Dance Macabre (Saint-Säens). The dude on duty making sure we behaved ourselves said the organist has a whole collection of such pieces in his repertoire. Down the street we ended up at St. Paul's for a few minutes, then on to city hall and the park ... the fountain is quite magnificent, especially when the gas lamps come up and the flames flicker while water arcs toward the middle of the structure.
I'm sure that Jy has many faults—being a slow walker is one of them—but such faults are generally no concern of mine. But what does annoy me is that she has a crappy sense of direction, she doesn't tend to ask for directions, she'll just walk randomly if she's more-or-less lost, and she's not decisive. This could all be mitigated were I just to take charge, make the decisions, and tell her this way, that way, let's go here, etc. But as the “guest” I don't like being pushy. So we spent much of the late afternoon / early evening in relative silence—such silence is how I restrained myself and kept myself from giving voice to anger, criticism, and perhaps insults.
And so I got pizza down the street, an iced coffee across the way from there, and then some chocolate milk at the Duane Reade. Too bad there was no “cash back” option with the card reader ... could have used the “free ATM-ness” of it.
To conclude this rather detailless boiary: Ellis and Liberty islands are actually really, really cool. I'm a museum geek of sorts (not for the snooty art-scene crowd stuff ... I'd never fit in), I like churches for the architecture, and I love parks. I like shopping, but when it comes to the Statue of Liberty and to Ellis Island I think of old people, I think of them as the Disneyland of our national history. But in reality? With the right park rangers? Really nifty. And great views of the city.
That is all for now ... except for random links:
- Last minute appeal in teen sex case sparks outrage: “Jubilation turned quickly to anger Monday after Georgia's top prosecutor vowed he would fight a judge's order that would have set free Genarlow Wilson, a Georgia man serving a 10-year prison sentence for a consensual sexual encounter he had as a teenager.”
- Twin boys among six slaughtered at Wisconsin home: “Twin infant boys were among six people found shot to death in a rental house in southern Wisconsin, after a barrage of gunfire that neighbors thought was pre-Fourth of July firecrackers. A survivor, a 2-year-old girl, was shot in the chest and found in a van nearby.” I leave the state for a few weeks and see what happens ...
- Serbian outrage over Bush remarks: “Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said Monday that his country was ‘rightfully embittered’ by Bush's remarks in support of Kosovan independence made during a brief stopover Sunday in Albania, adding that the United States ‘has no right to give away Serbia's territory to Albanians,’ according to a government news release.” Mr. President: open mouth, insert foot ... thank you, Mr. Diplomatic, Mr. Decider.
- Final Girl ... a nifty horror blog. I was looking for stuff on the comic book of the same name.
- Some publications from the Human Memory Lab at UC-Davis. Cool stuff. Keep it in mind.
- And a place that might stock things that fit me ... have never shopped there, though.
And now for a word from our sponsors ...
Note: You can get a burger with as many meat patties or cheese slices as you want. Just tell the In-N-Out Burger cashier how many meat patties and how much cheese you want and that is what you'll get! For instance, if you want 6 pieces of meat and 10 pieces of cheese tell them you want a "6-by-10."
“Songs to Seraphine” I
In the dreamy wood I wander,
In the wood at eventide;
And thy slender, graceful figure
Wanders ever by my side.
Is not this thy white veil floating?
Is not that thy gentle face?
Is it but the moonlight breaking
Through the dark fir-branches space?
Can these tears so softly flowing
Be my very own I hear?
Or indeed, art thou beside me,
Weeping, darling, close anear?
—Translated by Emma Lazarus
|< If I'm in Luck I Might Get Picked Up | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >|