Sunday, December 31, 2006

Nathan Hale: OMOM Essay 8

MacMonnies’s Hale has always been one of my favorite New York sculptures. In fact, the discussion of the details of Hale in Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan is based on an article I did way back in 1998, before this book was even conceived of. With regrets I had to cut the article's comparison of MacMonnies's Hale with Pratt's Hale. The third or fourth revision of the manuscript for Outdoor Monuments was running 20% beyond the length specified in the contract, and something (a lot of somethings, in fact) had to go. Eventually some of them will turn up as out-takes in this blog or on the Forgotten Delights website.

For Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan, I added to "About the Sculpture" the first of several discussions of the purpose of art.

"About the Subject" focuses on the fire that raged in Manhattan just after the British occupation in 1776. The British search for arsonists turned up Hale, who had been operating undercover in the city to gather intelligence for Washington.

In the photo above you can see more clearly the ropes just above Hale’s elbows. For another view of the Hale see the Forgotten Delights calendar (March 2007), where it’s accompanied by the Arthur Hugh Clough poem "Say Not the Struggle Nought Availeth" - a great poem for starting a New Year, particularly if the state of the world tends to make you pessimistic.

“Say Not the Struggle Nought Availeth”

Say not the struggle nought availeth,
The labor and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
And as things have been they remain.

If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
It may be, in yon smoke concealed,
Your comrades chase e’en now the fliers,
And, but for you, possess the field.

For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

And not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light;
In front, the sun climbs slow, how slowly
But westward, look, the land is bright.

If you like that, try Longfellow’s “Success”, same calendar, October 2007.

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