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Posted June 18, 2006
An Ode to Roger Fenton¿s Valley of the Shadow of Death by Ayul M Zamir The photograph: pale, grainy, and fading And on the ground, you see them, where they solemnly lie, like boulders of an ancient river bed that has since long dried. Strewn across the valley floor: innumerable spheres¿dark and silent¿ spent up cannon balls. On this desolate land, once, there was a great war, and many battles, brave men had marched here to fight. And now across that prized land, that men had, then, fought so hard to conquer, now, only rocks and abandoned metal lie. And not a single soul is in sight All of the same shape and size, these round, metallic, man-made spheres. Can almost feel the texture of those in a sharp focus, so many lie scattered far and near. Wonder: what color impressive uniforms, did the soldiers on march to that war, then, wear. Looking at this eternal photograph, you can almost hear that distant rumble. And feel the ground beneath your feet shake under the recoil of giant cannons when they thunder. When volley after volley of heavy metal was sent soaring high into the air, both sides knew another battle had begun¿ in one more war that was just, honorable, and fair. And all that metal, once laboriously molten and carefully cast, hurled into the air with each soul shaking blast. Dispatched, flying across to land on the enemy¿ to hit and hurt him before he is near enough to be even seen. That shocking power unleashed on the enemy That flying metal, now, on its downward journey Lethal arches drawn by metal balls¿ as they, now, race down to find bodies in that final, awesome, terrorizing, whistling freefall. You could trace back their long paths to earlier fought wars, and well thought out, rehearsed plans. Emotions ran high: military honor, national pride, old resentments, and long held anger ¿thoughtfully, however, on the map, and carefully¿precise lines were drawn. ¿We feel just and right about it. ¿Conquest is ours in the end. ¿That is our Nation¿s destiny. ¿Ours is that God granted fate.¿ And with that righteous inner strength, new perfect plans were made. And a minute ago, in final brave acts, in the midst of rousing cheers, they fired the guns ¿could feel the ground shake ¿they swaggered lightly: the shocked and awed enemy was about to meet his fate. Hot metal balls are landing: see that mud erupting, and sand flying and desperately in all directions¿ our wretched enemy is running blind. ¿Get ready to charge the stunned-softened enemy, now, boys use whatever: knives, bayonets, swords, sticks, hands, or dogs glorious victory is ours¿ and on our side is the God.¿ ¿Of course, few of our brave men too ¿honorable mothers¿ are left with severed limbs and torn flesh. And, yes, irreparable damage to hands and feet. But hear the Heaven greeting those who fell in the last final battle for them, now, let us cheer and ring in the victory.¿ ¿And thanks of a grateful country to those who, now, in the mother Earth¿s womb lie for eternity. At peace¿and like in their mothers¿ laps lie breast fed, pink, sleeping babies. Roger Fenton¿s hundred and fifty years old photograph: from 1855, of the Crimean war. An eternal testimony, a little pale and grainy, silent, lifeless, spent up cannon balls strewn across the land as far as the eyes can see in the ¿Valley of the Shadow of Death¿ in the past of the future.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 16, 2005
Though Roger Fenton may not be a name known to the general public, he certainly is a hero among those who have devoted their lives to the art of photography. Working in the mid-nineteenth century with a novel invention - the camera - Fenton was probably the first to see the possibilities of photography as art.This magnificent volume shares 85 of the artist's finest photographs, including moody views of the buildings of London, Moscow, Kiev, landscapes of countrysides, delicately composed still lifes and even some of his war photographs, works which compare to Matthew Brady's Civil War photographs.The accompanying essays and comments are not only highly informative, they also are written with a reader in mind! This is a beautiful and important book about an under appreciated artist about whom we all should know more. Highly recommended, and well worth the price. Grady HarpWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.