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Forward

Through the Unknown

By Matthew FrommPublished 10 months ago 4 min read
11
Eugène Delacroix - La liberté guidant le peuple

We press forward.

Into the dark and depth of an unknown darker than any nighttime sky and deeper than any ocean. Long have we watched the clouds gathering on the horizon, awaiting the storm that bellows us now along our path. Instead of the destruction the oppressors promised it would bring, it drives us like topsails on a grand frigate into a new world.

I can already imagine the cannons bellowing in the distance. The smell of powder seems to permeate the wind, a keg waiting for a spark. They lay quiet now, but they will come forth like serpents from the Orient and rain down a cleansing fire that would envy the gods of the old testament.

And over the bones of our forefathers and our brothers, worn to dust by the oppression of ages, we march. I sense the empty sockets of their skulls gazing down at us like a full moon on an open field. Do they judge or laud us? I do not know. But even in death, they permeate the fiber of this land, their very dust forming the mortar of the walls we will man and against which the waves of oppression will break.

We press forward.

With fear and uncertainty gnawing at our sides like vultures at a carcass, we gather our rifles, and swords, and hammers, and plows. We will bear the tools of the oppressor’s malice against them as Michael the Archangel struck forth at the devil with the weapon that pierced the side of Christ.

We don our colors. A strip of white, a tie of blue, or a beret of red; each brings what little they can–except for her. She dons her perfect vestiges and banner of the finest silk. Our mother, from her, we shall not be pulled but instead thrown into the new world, the world that we shall make in her own image.

The crows fly overhead–waiting, watching, biding their time. Their dark cries are the herald of our advance. We shudder at their cries but press on.

We press forward.

The stones know another storm comes, and they yearn for its deliverance. Like a block of quarried marble, its current beauty hides incomprehensible potential waiting for expert hands to craft it. I hope my son and daughters will sit in the shade of the statue we carve and smile.

Our fine city had laid under an unnatural blanket of fog and smoke, choking its beauty for generations. That was until the brave men and women stood and yelled, “No!” With their courage and vigor, they brought forth our fair maiden and, with her, our deliverance. Her beauty chased away the fog and brought forth the light of enlightenment and freedom.

We press forward.

Miles lay before us, through city and swamp, over dirt and stone, from Paris to Marseille. I already feel the ache in my feet and worry about my fellow patriots. Will we hold firm? Will we stand against the cannon and horse? Both of which will undoubtedly meet us head-on. None have abandoned our march yet.

We reach the heart of the city, patriots all flooding the streets. The road beneath our feet is pristine, and the avenue's trees are pruned to perfection. My stomach turns in hunger and anger. I sip water from a canteen; I can taste the dirt between my teeth, sore from stale bread.

I step into a puddle and feel the wetness between my toes, my boots older than my son. I pray with this march that I may save him from this fate. The fear – no, not fear any longer, uncertainty, confusion maybe, but not fear – grips us all in its hands, the invisible strings of those we march against designed for centuries to hold us back. We look toward her, though, and with a nod, she assuages even the darkest emotions within us. As vigorous as a maiden yet calming as a mother, the lady spurs our feet on, one in front of the other.

With her at our head, waving our colors, we press forward!

Let Liberty lead us on, forever.

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Author’s Note:

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that after living in Chicago and traveling to New York, London, and Amsterdam, the first art museum I ever stepped foot in was the Louvre. I’m more embarrassed to admit that I thought it was a little underwhelming, with one notable exception. Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix changed my outlook on art. I could have sat there for hours examining the details in the faces of the figures and understanding the emotions of the moment forever interred within the brush strokes. At that moment, I understood how works of art could be genuinely evocative. If this soliloquy-inspired prose captured .01% of the power within that painting, I’d consider it a triumph.

HistoryPaintingInspirationGeneral
11

About the Creator

Matthew Fromm

Full-time nerd, history enthusiast, and proprietor of random knowledge. The best way to find your perfect story is to make it yourself.

Here there be dragons, and knights, and castles, and quests for entities not wished to be found.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insight

  1. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (5)

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  • Mother Combs4 months ago

    Very inspirational. Love it

  • Veronica Coldiron7 months ago

    This was more than a triumph, it was pure excellence!

  • Cathy holmes10 months ago

    Wow. You just made that painting come alive. Great job!

  • Ian Read10 months ago

    This was a very provocative piece! Great job!

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