Thoughts On War and Peace and Music


Carla Lonzi, in her Manifesto di Rivolta Femminile of 1970 said: War has always been the specific activity of man and his way of displaying his virility.

Virginia Woolf, in her Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid, said: in The Times this morning—a woman’s voice saying, “Women have not a word to say in politics.” There is no woman in the Cabinet; nor in any responsible post. All the idea makers who are in a position to make ideas effective are men. That is a thought that damps thinking and encourages irresponsibility.  Apart from a few notable exceptions, this is still the case today.

Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid by Virginia Woolf.

It’s hard to believe that one man, could have really contemplated a war in Europe after all the slaughter, bloodshed, and suffering of two world wars.  It really is beyond belief.

I’ve just started listening to Apple music and came across Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, which I hadn’t listened to in a long time.  Now I admit that I am often easily moved to tears by things, but it was just the intersections of what I’m seeing and hearing in these last six weeks that got me, yet again.  We are lucky to be women, working in music, which is such a powerful life force.  On the other hand:


The man that hath no music in himself,

Nor is not mov’d with concord of sweet sounds,

Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;

The motions of his spirit are dull as night,

And his affections dark as Erebus:

Let no such man be trusted…

From The Merchant of Venice – William Shakespeare


Turin has had a sizeable Jewish community.  Around the streets of the center, we often see these brass plaques set into the pavement outside the entrances of where these people used to live.  You’ll notice that they are slightly raised so that you cannot fail to notice them.  They are in memory of the Jews who were taken from their homes in Turin and deported to Auschwitz in Poland; as an aside, Poland has been taking its share of refugees from neighboring Ukraine.  Anyway, look closely at what happened to the Valabrega family: mother and father were assassinated within two months of being in Auschwitz, while their daughter Stella, who was only 20 years old when she was deported, survived.  I shudder to think how a young woman in such dire circumstances would have managed until the end of the war.  I mean, is this really happening again?

Back to the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, and I remember when working in a Primary School in Oxfordshire, using part of the third movement, which is beautifully sung by one of my favorite sopranos, Dawn Upshaw, as a dance movement for a very talented young girl.

This very short text held such significance for me as I leave my ‘Black Dog’ and come into the light:

Mamo, nie płacz, nie.

Niebios Przeczysta Królowo.

Ty zawsze wspieraj mnie.

Zdrowaś Mario.

No, Mother, do not weep,
Most chaste Queen of Heaven
Support me always.
“Zdrowas Mario.” (*)

The text is a prayer inscribed on a wall of cell no. 3 in the basement of “Palace,” the Gestapo’s headquarters in Zadopane; beneath is the signature of Helena Wanda Blazusiakówna, and the words “18 years old, imprisoned since 26 September 1944.”)

(*) “Zdrowas Mario” (Ave Maria)—the opening of the Polish prayer to the Holy Mother

Yes, this one moved me.


The good news is that Helena survived, she was rescued by a group of partisan fighters who took her into the hills and reunited her with her grandmother.  She later married and had five children…  I just couldn’t find out what happened to her

And what about my own personal war, or it seems like that, nine months after separation from my Mexican girlfriend, having arrived back from Mexico with just four suitcases, it still feels like a battle to free myself from the memory of this manipulative control of me and my life.  Over these last nine months, those brilliant writers of the Autostraddle website have helped me understand and accept the new realities.  I came across this in one of the articles and it chimed with me…


full article here