the queen and the soldier

today, i’ve got suzanne vega on the brain. those who’ve known me for at least two decades have heard my “famous” percocet/suzanne vega story at least a zillion times. at some point, i’m sure i’ll write it down. but suffice to say, i *heart* vega and her lou reed-ish interpretive songs. like mitchell, she can paint stirring moments in song, and i’m hard-pressed to pick a one.

but since my leitmotif is women [subjects] of rock, i’ll choose the queen and the soldier. a battle-weary soldier confronts a queen, asking her why he and his comrades must fight this battle. the queen, normally imperious, informs him:

The young queen, she fixed him with an arrogant eye
She said, “You won’t understand, and you may as well not try”
But her face was a child’s, and he thought she would cry
But she closed herself up like a fan.

And she said, “I’ve swallowed a secret burning thread
It cuts me inside, and often I’ve bled”
He laid his hand then on top of her head
And he bowed her down to the ground.

all the soldier wants to do is return to his home, his love, his life, but he has the temerity to question authority. and the queen, apparently, is unable to comprehend and is threatened. she might dissolve if she is treated like a human and not like a diety. she tells him to wait; and while he waits, she orders his execution. he is killed, still waiting for her word.

i read this today in light of the Iraqi war. americans who have had the temerity to question the bush administration’s policies have been deemed unpatriotic and unamerican.  they have been crucified in the press, vilified in their communities.

and all we want to know is why.

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