bebasata

August 12, 2009

Oh my friends, my friends, don’t ask me.. what your sacrifice was for..

Filed under: On books and reading,Quotes — by AmiraAK @ 4:01 pm

The minute someone mentions A Tale of Two Cities I remember the opening lines of this amazing book: 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—

How can one not fall in love with this?  How can one not fall in love with Dickens, his style and his colourful complex characters?  How can one not fall in love with A Tale of Two Cities and Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay? 

Carton’s sacrifice and his sweet heartbreaking words at the end of the story:

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

These two characters, together with Madame Defarge sitting in that shop knitting the names of those who will be executed, will remain with us forever.  The ingenuity of a book such as this is one where the characters are persons.. people you recall from your past.. like ghosts from your childhood. 

I think A Tale of Two Cities will be the next book I read.  I’m nostalgic.  I want to read it again in detail. 

  

I am also in a Les Miserables mood.. On my way to and from the coast last weekend, I felt a deep urge to listen to the songs of the musical, and with it go through the whole story again.. again the sacrifice, persistence and perseverance, faith in fighting for a cause you believe in.. and utter love.. How can one hunt a person down for so long over a loaf of bread that he stole?  The sacrifice of the people who made the revolution happen..

Oh my friends, my friends, don’t ask me
What your sacrifice was for
Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my friends will sing no more

The musical in my opinion is a masterpiece.  If it were still running in London or Broadway, I would still go, even though I’ve watched it twice already.  I wasn’t going to put it all up, but this is such a beautiful song; it always, always brings shivers down my spine and throughout my whole body:

There’s a grief that can’t be spoken.
There’s a pain goes on and on.
Empty chairs at empty tables
Now my friends are dead and gone.

Here they talked of revolution.
Here it was they lit the flame.
Here they sang about `tomorrow’
And tomorrow never came.

From the table in the corner
They could see a world reborn
And they rose with voices ringing
I can hear them now!
The very words that they had sung
Became their last communion
On the lonely barricade at dawn.

Oh my friends, my friends forgive me
That I live and you are gone.
There’s a grief that can’t be spoken.
There’s a pain goes on and on.

Phantom faces at the window.
Phantom shadows on the floor.
Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my friends will meet no more.

Oh my friends, my friends, don’t ask me
What your sacrifice was for
Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my friends will sing no more.

 

The two volumes I have of Les Miserables cannot stay on my bookshelf unread much longer.  I will have to bring them down and read them sooner rather than later. 

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