See Tupelo Press to read the poems for March 10, 2014 by scrolling down to “Day 10/Poems 10” and of course, to read my poem, Prelude to War / by John C. Mannone.
The backstory is as follows:
“Prelude to War” is a product of brainstorming done for a historical novella on the Civil War conceived during the November 2013 Nanowrimo. The word-glutted text from stream of consciousness writing as it stands requires significant reconstructive surgery. On a hunch that the bloated writing might be compressed into a prose poem, I examined those writings. Well, not only did I have to remove large amounts of dead tissue, I had to make significant implants to bring it to life, after many hours on the surgical table.
The prose poem is in three parts: In I, the frivolity of military leaders and their wives at a ball before the deployment of troops, which is contrasted, in II, with a young soldier and his bride, yet they too are deluded by duty and honor, and in III, though it seems that even “nature” knows what is ahead, it cannot do anything about it.
A musical strand permeates the work, and thus the title, in particular the word “Prelude,” does double duty as a musical movement to war and as an introduction to war. It’s as if the secret to peace is in the music. Though not worked into the poem, I was definitely thinking about how “music soothes the savage beast” (actually, the phrase, coined by William Congreve, is in “The Mourning Bride,” 1697: Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast). I allude to the music of the spheres in Longfellow’s poem, “The Occultation of Orion,” which is an anti-war poem. And while I was thinking about this poem, I heard Beethoven’s piece on PBS radio. I did a quick check to make sure it was not an anachronism…it wasn’t since it was written around 1800/1801, and I checked Longfellow’s poem, too. It was written 1845. Some links are below as an aside.