An echo from the past

Al and me, enjoying what passed as a snowfall in Atlanta in the mid 1960's.

Al and me, enjoying what passed as a snowfall in Atlanta in the mid 1960’s

Nothing is Lost

by Noel Coward

Deep in our sub-conscious, we are told
Lie all our memories, lie all the notes
Of all the music we have ever heard
And all the phrases those we loved have spoken,
Sorrows and losses time has since consoled,
Family jokes, out-moded anecdotes
Each sentimental souvenir and token
Everything seen, experienced, each word
Addressed to us in infancy, before
Before we could even know or understand
The implications of our wonderland.
There they all are, the legendary lies
The birthday treats, the sights, the sounds, the tears
Forgotten debris of forgotten years
Waiting to be recalled, waiting to rise
Before our world dissolves before our eyes
Waiting for some small, intimate reminder,
A word, a tune, a known familiar scent
An echo from the past when, innocent
We looked upon the present with delight
And doubted not the future would be kinder
And never knew the loneliness of night.

36 Comments

  1. Beautifully written and so true. The older I get the more I reminisce about the past. :o)

    • Thank you, Patricia! One thing I so loved about your book was all the sensory details you included, which made me feel as if I was THERE in Sicily with you. Those details are what Coward captures so beautifully in this poem. The moment I read it, I knew I wanted to include it in the blog. Hope this finds you doing well!

  2. Good morning, Julia!
    Ah, the “Good ol’ Days!”
    I laughed out loud at your precious photo! I wish I knew how to post a contrasting photo that I took last night. There is simply no where to put the snow here! Lady night I parked in front of a snow bank so high that I just had to take a picture. Unbelievable!
    And regarding tunes of yesteryear, that’s where the best (and worst) “earworms” come from. The other night as I was getting ready to go to bed, what’s stuck in my head, but Jesus Christ Superstar! The really fast one that Judas sings. More appropriate for doing calisthenics than for sleeping!
    Noel Coward’s poem is certainly something to think about. Thank you for sharing that.

    • Susan, do send me the photo by email (defeatdespair@verizon.net) and I’ll post it here. It would be a nice contrast! Earworms are my contant companion. I used to find it annoying but now I just try to enjoy it. The music from Superstar was all fabulous, but I think Judas’ song may have been my favorite of all of them. It’s a high-energy song that is definitely good for exercise, but what I like about it is that Rice captured so well the person I imagine Judas to have been. The anger and frustration and urgent agitation he must have felt, that brought him to betray a close friend. We like to demonize the villain and deny our own tendencies toward their errors, but as Peter proved with his own incident of betrayal, we are all too easily hijacked by evil. How fitting that others of the twelve asked “Lord, is it I?” It seems an appropriate reflection for the lenten season, when we “remember we are dust.” But I digress… πŸ™‚ (Hi Raynard!)

  3. Michael

    2 inches of snow in Canton. I will try and send a clip of Norah. A past coworker J.M. just yesterday lost a child at 8 months- her first. Please keep family in prayer.

    • Michael, I got the photos of Norah and they are adorable. Do you mind if post one of them here? I love her bright colors in the Georgia version of a snowfall! Thanks for letting us know about J.M. To lose a child at that age seems particularly unbearable, after they have become such a delightful and constant presence in our lives. I know others will join me in praying for this family who is suffering such a heartbreak.

  4. Megan

    I love this! Snow days in Georgia haven’t changed! Ours is much less than that, but with the rain that was coming down with it, we couldn’t much “play” in what we have (less than a dusting). I was hoping Grady was going to get to play in some, but doesn’t look like that will happen this year.

    • Megan, I was wondering how much snow y’all had gotten in Atlanta. In the nearly 5 years we’ve lived part-time in the DC area, I’ve seen more snow than in the rest of my 58+ years combined! But even that is probably less than what you saw growing up in Kansas City. Maybe G-man can come see us or your parents during winter next year, and catch a SERIOUS snowfall suitable for play. As much as he loves throwing things, he’s a natural for a snowball fight! Thanks for being here today!

  5. Anon E. Moose

    This is my favorite bit of prose ever posted on a DefeatDespair blog entry. If you would indulge your big brother, two scriptures come to mind:
    Matthew 12: 35-37; and just a couple chapters earlier – chapt. 10, verse 42.

    Please send me an email about “the lenten season”. I am terribly ignorant of such things 😦

    • Hi Eric, I’ll try to follow up with an email containing more details, but for others who may not be aware of my references, this link is one place to read more about the lenten season, which is observed by many Christian denominations (though not by all). It begins on Ash Wednesday and goes through Easter.

  6. Carolyn

    We have been lucky,a dusting of snow but lots of ice. I had to be at hospital at 5:30 Monday morning. Ice all the way from house to I-40 and then the roads were fine. I had the surgery for 3 hernias,he found another one. I am home and very sore. I had a drain tube and it came out last night, called West Clinci and they said it was okay, glad I didn’t have to go in. How is Jeff doing? Well time for lunch. You all take care and be careful on the roads. Hugs and love to all.

    • Carolyn, thanks for this update. I have been thinking of you and sending up prayers. Jeff totally gets it about the drain tubes – he’s been wearing one since about October or November and he’s more than ready to lose it! Take care, stay warm and join me in a virtual cup of tea! I’m headed to the kitchen now to put the kettle on. πŸ˜€ Love to you and Terry.

  7. Sheila

    Julia, I love the photo and the poem that accompanies it! It’s really one that you never tire of reading, although I wasn’t familiar with it. Did I hear your teakettle whistling this afternoon? Just wondering! β˜•οΈ Have a wonderful weekend. ☺️ Sheila

    • Sheila, YES, that was definitely my teakettle whistling, except for those time I was standing there waiting for it to boil and grabbed it to pour before it had a chance to whistle. My brother Al just added to my hoarded supply.What flavor should I pour for you? I too love that poem — I’ve often thought the inside of my head is like a large compost heap — mostly in a good way, of course. πŸ™‚ Have a lovely weekend with “all the guys.” ❀

      • Sheila

        Good morning…. you’re pouring? I guess favorite flavors would be orange or peach blends! Are you familiar with “Instant Russian Tea” that was a staple to have on hand long ago? Mrs. Vann gave me the recipe, made with Tang and instant tea. ☺️ Nascar race weekend in Atlanta! 🚘🚘🏁 Walter is a race fan, honestly! πŸ‘ We think it’s the sounds of the cars as they go round the track. Not sure if he has a favorite driver but surely it’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. in this house. His cage is positioned where he can watch tv and he starts talking and squawking so excitedly. πŸ˜‚ Never a dull moment!

        • Sheila, you are in luck! I just “happen” to have both flavors among my approximately 846 varieties. πŸ˜€ hee-hee — only a slight exaggeration. Which shall I pour first? Someone gave me some of that Russian tea years ago — Amy Hill, was it you? — and I thought I’d never had anything so scrumptious. I promptly demanded the recipe and almost as promptly misplaced it.

          That Walter! Who would imagine a Sun Conure being a NASCAR fan? It must be the “Sun” part! I can just hear him thinking “Next to flying, a race car must be the BEST!” Or maybe it’s the bright colors along with the noise. My nephews (both former dirt bike racers) were just in Atlanta for some sort of big dirt bike event at the Georgia Dome. All those vehicle events get confused in my mind. Things with motors are beyond my comprehension. Maybe that’s why I’m so fond of walking! πŸ˜€ Hope you are having a sunny weekend. We are, which makes it easier to dig out of the HUGE GOBS OF SNOW that piled up around our York home. It was pretty, but practicality demanded we start burrowing a path through it to the door.

        • Rene

          My mother used to make Russian Tea for her children when we were sick. A few years ago, when I had pneumonia, she brought me a jar all the way from her home in Arizona.

          • Rene, that is so sweet! Aren’t Moms wonderful? Next time I’m sick I’ll try to remember to order up some Russian tea. Hope you are doing well. It’s always fun to hear from you. Thanks for being here.

  8. Great photo of you and your brother in the snow, Julia. I have a photo of me with my sister on my blog today as well. What a coincidence.

    That’s a lovely bit of poetry from Mr. Coward. You find the most wonderful things to share.

    • Hi Alys, I just went to your blog and tried to “like” and comment, but lately WordPress has been treating me as if I’m not signed in, and it won’t let me do anything except read. FRUSTRATING! and I can’t figure out why. I’ve only been able to get through a few times, when I clicked through from my reader, but I usually go directly to the blogs and can’t figure out why it’s not letting me do anything. In any case, thanks for letting me know about the photo – I loved it AND the post about Fairy Gardens! Did you ever make decorative mud pies in childhood when you were out there playing? Sometimes I thought for SURE I saw a fairy or two in the trees or grass. Thanks for being here.

      • Julia, you might check one of the WordPress forums to see why you can’t connect. Is it just my blog or all blogs? Sometimes it helps to clear cookies on your computer. If you try logging on from another computer and you don’t have the problem, that could be it.

        In any event, thanks for reading and trying to comment, and thanks for sharing your thoughts here. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

        Oh yes, mudpies was high on my list of getting dirty as a child. I remember sitting outside the kitchen window with a spoon and getting lost in the warm sun and the soothing sensations of all the. mud. I feel sorry for all those children that can’t or don’t get dirty. It feels like such a pleasurable right of passage through childhood.

        • Alys, it was happening with all the blogs. When I used Internet Explorer, it would happen with self-hosted blogs at wordpress.org, but now it’s all of them. I tried clearing the cookies but that didn’t help. I think it has something to do with my switching to Google Chrome after my Firefox was infested with adware/malware. The computer guru who helped me get rid of the problem said Chrome was less prone to that than IE or Firefox, but apparently it’s overly cautious? I didn’t have the problem when I went back through IE. Ah, the joy of technology!

          Re: the mudpies — this poem by Boyden was always one of my favorites. I also remember having a lot of fun digging earthworms out of dried manure in the barn, gathering bait in preparation for a fishing trip with my Granny R. THAT is one pastime I can’t imagine enjoying now! But being a kid is grand.

          • Technology is great when it works, a nightmare when it doesn’t. I’ve never liked Chrome or IE. Now that I have a mac is switch between Safari and Firefox. So far, so good.

            Thank you for the poem and for sharing your own memories.

            • Hi Alys! Just when I think I have most things about the computer figured out, I get a huge curve ball thrown at me again. Initially part of the reason I switched to Chrome is that it solved the problem of my not being able to watch videos on Facebook. Then it quit letting me comment on WordPress – what a deal-breaker! I may try to go back to Firefox if I can figure out how to purge all the adware. When I re-installed it after deleting it, it was still there and came back to drive me crazy AGAIN. My tech helper said that these bits and pieces left in the registry are sometimes very hard to find and eliminate. I’ve never been an Apple person, but I may switch if this keeps up. However, I’m not sure I could take the learning curve, and How-to Geek just had an article that Apple is now being infiltrated by adware and malware. I guess this is the 21st century equivalent of downed power lines and nuisance calls without caller ID.

              • What a mess, Julia. I’m lucky to live with Mike, my in-house tech support, along with both our sons. You are right, too, I don’t think anything is safe from hackers anymore. I heard an interview a few months back by a security expert. He said that based on the fire walls, we can track almost anyone, unless they are in Russia. He said an 18 year old hacker in Russia could reek havoc and we would never be able to trace it. Be exposing some of these people, he’s endured death threats, frightening news delivered to his wife via roses, and a SWAT team showing up under the guise that he was armed and dangerous in his own home. Terrifying. Check out his blog Kreb’s on Security. It’s a real eye-opener.

                • I read a similar article about a Ukrainian man who tracks cyber crime. I looked at the Krebs blog — WOW, one story after another on his blog, all about this type of thing. It really is scary but other than follow the oft-repeated rules, there seems to be nothing we can do about it. As I pointed out to Jeff, even if it was possible not to do business online (and I don’t think it is, anymore), every single organization, business, agency or whatever that you deal with has databases that are hacked. You are DEFINITELY lucky that you have a techie or two at your home — I’m the most tech-savvy person in my home — talk about the blind leading the blind! πŸ˜€

                  • Oh dear, Julia. I feel for you. I actually had a good cry this morning after spending an hour trying to load new software. All the ususual problems: they said I already had an account, but I had the wrong password. I changed the password and I failed the security question: my first pet. How to you fail that!!! Oh my gosh it was irritating.

                    I can’t imagine not doing commerce online and as you say, all the banks, credit unions, mortgage companies, utilities, all of the are on line. I’m frequently changing passwords, using all sorts of passwords to keep ahead of the game, and still, just this week, we were issued new credit cards (again) saying they’d been ‘compromised.’ That could mean just about anything. Such a hassle.

                    I’m not ready for my chip implant though, so this will have to due for now.

                    • It does amaze me how frustrating computers can be…its a sort of torment that seems unlike non-technical woes. I’m so sorry you had to go through the credit card thing. It can feel like musical chairs, only with account numbers. Just today I had to go into Matt’s insurance records because we got a letter saying the medical database at his hospital had been hacked, and his records were among those exposed to possible misuse. I needed to check his EOBs for possible fake charges. But the password process to get in was so ridiculous. Has to be changed every so many days — can’t use a previously used password — must be between 8-11 characters and use only very narrowly defined components, so the first 3-4 new passwords I came up with didn’t qualify. Despite all this, the hackers get in. BUT as you say, I’m not going in for any data chips to be implanted. I was glad Pasha had one since that brought him home to us, but I’m not ready for it at the human level!

  9. Julia,
    The greatest gift a person of years can have is for God to bless him/her with the continued ability to recall those joyful moments of youth and still find the wonderment in them.
    -Alan

    • Alan, I agree. People of our generation are fortunate that we have more photographs and other mementos than our parents did, but of course, the memories often have staying power, even without tangible reminders. It doesn’t take much to get me enthusiastic, so it’s easy to re-live being a kid. While that sometimes gets on the nerves of more sedate types, I am happy to be still partly a kid inside. Hope you are doing OK in this snow. Jeff and I have just been digging out the foot or more of drifts in front of our door at our York home. It’s sunny and not too cold, so it hasn’t been bad, but I was surprised to see so much snow still here when we got back from the DC area earlier today. I’m sure it’s nothing compared to what you all are having!

      • It has been rough, Julia. The 1st 30 inches are still underneath there somewhere. We’re getting another 3-5in. tonight. We’re in March though, the warm temps are near.
        Stay well,
        -Alan

        • Oh dear Alan, I can hardly imagine that. When we arrived back at our York home and found a foot of drifts around the house to dig through, I though that was a huge job and we had to take it a little bit at a time. I agree with you that having all this hit in March is easier than having it in December; at least we don’t have months of it ahead of us. I did a blog post for tomorrow celebrating the lighter side of the snow, but I’m not sure there is a lighter side when it’s that deep! Hope you and all in your area will stay safe, warm & cozy!

  10. Michael

    Let me think about that- sharing the picture that is.

    • No worries Michael, I didn’t mean to put you on the spot. I saw so many lovely snow pictures that I wanted to make a sort of collage to go at the bottom of my post, but it seems almost everyone on Facebook beat me to it. The “Winter Wonderland” collages were everywhere! I’m so happy we’ve been able to enjoy the beauty of what can also be inconvenient and even dangerous. The kids among us are great at reminding us that it’s a wonderful life.

  11. Anon E. Moose

    Oh my! I have gotten so used to Julia’s prose often being better than a poetic work she features at the beginning of many blog entries, I failed to notice its absence here. Suffice it to say Coward’s poem captures our family of origin so well, Julia could have been its author. (She certainly possesses that kind of talent.)

    • Aw, that’s so sweet…if only it were true! But you’re right, the poem sounds as if it could have been written about our family…and, I imagine, many others too. That’s how one knows great (or at least good) literature; that near-universal reaction of “Hey! Me too! I thought I was the only one!” to something intangible buried in the words.

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