Sunday, January 20, 2008

I wake with a sense of almost intolerable burden. In my left hand is a scrap of parchment with a fragmentary brightly hand-colored coat of arms, all floriated. I understand that these are the arms of the Archduke. The one who shot himself – or was murdered — at Mayerling. And it seems I know at once that this was the most critical event in European, or even world, history of its era. Strangely, the sense of burden, a personal burden I must carry or discharge, immediately lifts off me when I hear or see or say the word “Archduke” – it is replaced instead by an immense sadness. No one can do anything about that death. It is so sad. Suicide saddest, murder viler. Fully awake now I cannot endure being in bed. I get up. It is almost light. In the distance I hear a snowplow clearing the road.

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