The Waterloo Bridge: A River of Memories

In a previous post we discussed unrequited love between Esmeralda and Quasimodo.  Their story is truly a tragedy, where one loves, but the other person cannot or will not return the gift of heart regardless of how pure the oblation.

Now, let’s consider love born in the throes of war.  When humans face their greatest struggles and fears, love seems to be the one intangible which proffers a glimmer of sanity in the harsh air raid sirens and the bombs of endings. For when a bomb falls, life changes forever.

In the poignant memory play Waterloo Bridge, Robert Sherwood relates the story of love between two people who found themselves in the midst of World War I in London.  He based his two-act play on his own experiences during his time in London.

The play opened January 6, 1930.  It only ran for 64 performances at the Fulton Theater.  Perhaps people were tired of war stories.

Fortunately, it would be the movies which would bring the play and the love story of Myra and Roy to life.  I have seen the 1940 movie with its haunting Farewell Waltz (Auld Lang Syne) by Eric Cosman and his Orchestra.

As the lights are extinguished, the various candles illuminate the faces of the dancers.  As the music slowly fades, each orchestra member caps his candle.

This scene with its surreal images enhances the growing love between Myra and Roy.  At midnight, the kiss is a touching moment which beckons the viewer from the dark shadows of war outside the picture window of the dance hall.

The last kiss of innocence before boys and men went off to war.  Many of them never return to their mothers and sweethearts. A fair number who did return were changed forever by the horrors of trench warfare and the cruelties of man-made devices of destruction.

Roy and Myra always had Waterloo Bridge before they lost their innocence to the usurper of love. On the eve of another war—World War II—Roy took the time to reminisce on Waterloo Bridge about his beloved Myra who was lost tragically on this bridge so many years before.

If we were to personalize death his name would be Thanatos, the Greek god of death. For this bloodless Spectre renders lovers apart each day on this planet traversing the cosmos.

For many, all they can do is stand on their Waterloo Bridge and remember.  Such remembrances are precious to the one left behind to carry on their solitary journey to the cosmic ocean.

Perhaps, in some mystical way, the song Auld Lang Syne will welcome them when their journey is over.  The solace of sleep eases all sorrows and heartaches.

If you are grieving for your loved one this day, stand on your Waterloo Bridge and remember the hills and valleys of the life shared in your trek.  Embrace the fact, poignant as it is, that life continues for you and sing the song that memories will not be forgotten and, just perhaps, on the other shore love will flourish again.

G. D. Williams © 2017

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Waterloo Bridge Play

Waterloo Bridge 1931


Waterloo Bridge 1940


Gaby 1956