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Howard Bahr quotes Showing 1-17 of 17

“Maybe that's what the night is for, just so's we can know the difference when the light comes again.”
Howard Bahr, The Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil War
“When a man was alone too much, he had only himself to look into, and what he found there was all manner of darkness.”
Howard Bahr, Pelican Road
“So the women would not forgive. Their passion remained intact, carefully guarded and nurtured by the bitter knowledge of all they had lost, of all that had been stolen from them. For generations they vilified the Yankee race so the thief would have a face, a name, a mysterious country into which he had withdrawn and from which he might venture again. They banded together into a militant freemasonry of remembering, and from that citadel held out against any suggestion that what they had suffered and lost might have been in vain. They created the Lost Cause, and consecrated that proud fiction with the blood of real men. To the Lost Cause they dedicated their own blood, their own lives, and to it they offered books, monographs, songs, acres and acres of bad poetry. They fashioned out of grief and loss an imaginary world in which every Southern church had stabled Yankee horses, every nick in Mama's furniture was made by Yankee spurs, every torn painting was the victim of Yankee sabre - a world in which paint did not stick to plaster walls because of the precious salt once hidden there; in which bloodstains could not be washed away and every other house had been a hospital.”
Howard Bahr, The Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil War
“In spite of all he had seen, Cass still believed in the fundamental decency of cats and men. He knew that God believed in it, too, in spite of all He’d seen – iin spite of all His grieving and all the lies told about Him down the bloody ages. He was God after all, and had made all creatures, and He had taken the noble chance of granting to one of them a will of its own, and in the end, the gift had been worth all the trouble. Maybe the right to choose was the best gift of all and the best proof of love. It was more precious even than life itself, for without the possibility of defeat, the victories would have no meaning.”
Howard Bahr, The Judas Field: A Novel of the Civil War
“The dawn that Anna feared might never come would appear on schedule, just as it always had - and after it another, and another. And yesterday would become Last Month, then Last Winter, then Last Year, then Two and Five and Ten Years Ago, and one day the people would have to stop and think before they could say how long ago it was ...”
Howard Bahr, The Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil War
“So Anna did not blame the women of her time for what they had created; it was different only in kind from what she had made herself. And if the old soldiers wanted only to forgive, Anna understood that, too, though in her own memory she could no longer find anything that needed forgiving. In the sunlight by her cousin’s grave, she would touch the black ostrich plume in her hat—the plume that, like herself, grew a little older and little more frayed every year—and think about what all of it meant to her. Down the hill slept the soldiers, and she would visit certain of them in a little while, and the thought of them—their faces, their voices, their particular ways—always made her smile. General Nathan Bedford Forrest himself told her once that she had seen the last of a great army, but he was wrong in that, for they still moved out there in the sunlight, all of them. He was right about one thing though: there was no shame in it, not ever.”
Howard Bahr, The Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil War
“There was nothing frail about her voice, however, or the way she paced before the mantel as she offered her plan in the same words she had used in the note, without enlargement. It was simple enough: she wanted him to go with her to Franklin and find her long-dead kinfolk and bring them home. She did not say why, after all this time, she had determined such a thing. Cass never asked, for he understood the quest as one of those that didn’t need to make sense except to the one making it. Moreover, he agreed to go, all his arguments and misgivings dying away as he watched Alison’s face.”
Howard Bahr, The Judas Field: A Novel of the Civil War
“You are strangers, too, sine nomine, even to yourselves. They”
Howard Bahr, Pelican Road
“As it happened, adiversion had presented itself: a new clerk, a small girl of flawless complexion, her straw-colored hair pulled back in a ponytail, with a face that renewed a man’s faith in Possibility.”
Howard Bahr, Pelican Road
“The truth was never easy, and it was never simple, and it had a way of breaking your heart. Thus men chose its imitation whenever possible and made the world fit the shape that suited them best. Smith believed man created God and Truth both in his own image, and he attached no blame to that. He had long ago decided that most people got along as best they could, trying to be brave, trying to be good, trying to subdue the terrors of life with whatever expectations lay easiest to hand.”
Howard Bahr, Pelican Road
“They had three cadences, these spectral drummers, which they called First Kings, Second Kings, and Revelations. Going into a fight, they went from one cadence to another with no apparent signal until the officers began to shout commands and men began to fall. Then the drummers began a solemn drill beat that Bushrod believed would be the muttering undertone of every nightmare he would ever have.”
Howard Bahr, The Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil War
“Pelican Road, whence the train had come and to which it would soon return, was the name given the two hundred and seven miles of ballasted heavyweight main line rail between Meridian, Mississippi, and New Orleans.”
Howard Bahr, Pelican Road
“He loved to be among people and talk to them, find out what they had done and what they believed in. He felt that everybody was a traveler on the same journey, and a person should be interested in what others had learned along the way. But the Public was a different matter. The Public was too delicate, too selfish and selfabsorbed, a loud collective Voice clamoring with complaints, demanding attention.”
Howard Bahr, Pelican Road
“Then as Anna listened another sound began to rise within the first. It began as a low keening, like the wind in a bottle tree, almost indiscernible amid the guns. Yet it was there, and it grew and grew, gaining strength and timbre until suddenly a new note broke away and was taken up: a high weird quavering like nothing that Anna had ever heard, that peopled the smoke with an army of mourning phantoms. Anna had heard the men talk of this, too—the uncanny demon cry of the Rebel army going into the attack—and now here it was for real, echoing across violence and death for the last time in a wild crescendo that seemed to peak and yet peak again: descanting blood, crying lost youth and the loss of all dreams. One last time it shrilled out of the rolling smoke, then collapsed all at once into a maelstrom of voices—the deep snarling utterance of thousands of men in hell.”
Howard Bahr, The Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil War
“Through the door at the end of the hall, Bushrod could see daylight. Gray and sullen it was, but daylight all the same. Through the years Bushrod had seen the dawn come to many fields, after many hard fights, and it was always a sacred moment to him--proof that the universe was still intact in spite of the blood on the ground, the hosts of Departed beginning their first day in eternity, the dead horses and broken gun carriages and scattered equipment--in spite of all the panoramic ruin of the battlefield so brutal and grotesque that it was a wonder God did not bury it in darkness forever--and with it the guilty living, who crept from their holes or their stiff blankets and looked about with astonishment on what they had done. But God never would bury it. He always seemed to want to start over again, whether out of anger or pity Bushrod could not say. And now here was another dawn, after another great fight, and once more God had permitted Bushrod Carter to live.”
Howard Bahr, The Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil War
“Anna thought about the men outside on the gallery. She was glad they were there; finding them smoking and talking quietly had been comforting, it was what men did in the evenings when the work was done. Of course, the work was not done, and she doubted that it ever would be. It would go on and on, even after the house was emptied of strangers, long after the wildflowers had blossomed a hundred times on their graves.”
Howard Bahr, The Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil War
“Lonesomeness, on the other hand, did not depend on circumstance. It was bolted in the heart and seized on a man’s weakness, a vise that squeezed all possibility out of time, that crushed hope and rendered meaningless anything tomorrow could offer.”
Howard Bahr, Pelican Road


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The Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil War The Black Flower
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