O’Death and Perseverance



Listen to “O’ Death” on Soundcloud.

“But no wealth, no land,
no silver, no gold,
nothing can satisfy me but your soul.”

A bleak song for a bleak outcome.

“Oh Death” or “Conversations With Death” is sometimes classified as a murder balland, sometimes classified as religious song. Certainly, it is a traditional song of dubious heritage. When I first heard it, I assumed it might be an African American work song; a good friend of mine informed me that it is, “in fact”, of Irish origin. Further investigation into the matter has yielded mixed results. The popularity of it, however, stems from the conversational nature of song: speaking directly to Death, and then speaking as Death personified.

The act of pleading with an unyielding force, of futilely begging for an alternative to an apparent downfall, denial and disbelief… sentiments and expressions that, perhaps, many Americans can relate to today. Certainly, many of my relatives and friends, especially those in minority groups, are devastated.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. I’m a cynical person by nature; the word “hope” often sticks like glue in my mouth. And today, I am not hopeful or optimistic. Rather, I am resolute and determined. I am resigned to the fact that we are not collectively as progressive as many of us thought, and that we have a long road ahead. I am not, however, resigned to being downtrodden.

So, to lighten the mood, here is my second musical offering: Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, Movement II Allegretto. This is one of my favorite pieces of classical music, and very apropos. It’s a song of perseverance, of patience, of gritting one’s teeth and getting to work.

And, if I’m being honest: it’s a song of hope.



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