“Kiss Her Shadow”

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Sung by: Robert Wade (soloist), Derek Hanson, John Kelleher, and Stephen Lloyd; staged reading, October, 2010.

Sick and wounded SOLDIERS sing a love paean to Florence who makes the rounds of the hospital every night with her lamp, offering a comforting, female solace in their misery.  The lyrics were adapted from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem about Nightingale, “Santa Filomena”: “And slow, as in a dream of bliss, / The speechless sufferer turns to kiss / Her shadow, as it falls / Upon the darkening walls.”  Longfellow was in turn inspired by a letter written by a Crimean War soldier that was widely published and helped to create the mythos around Nightingale.

“Epilogue” (excerpt)
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A Modern-Day Nurse and Sidney Herbert, Florence’s principle ally, summarize Nightingale’s work after the Crimean War and about her legacy: she helped reform the British Army’s medical department, wrote copiously, corresponded with many around the world, contributed to improvements in public health, hospital administration and more, pioneered nurse education, and established nursing as a profession.  She was both a ferocious and compassionate agent of change.

“Arrival of Sick & Wounded” (excerpt)

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Crimean War Correspondent William Howard Russell sends an outraged report to England via telegraph: he declaims the lack of supplies for soldiers, the incompetence of generals, and the idiocy of the tragic “Charge of the Light Brigade.”  He ends by noting that news of the arrival of the sick and wounded at the hospital was delayed and received but a half-hour before.

“The Kingdom of Hell” (excerpt)

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Florence writes to Sidney Herbert about the situation at her army hospital during the Crimean War.  Due to mismanagement by the military, the hospital is pitifully short on supplies and woefully over-crowded.  She and her nurses are doing their best to relieve the suffering of the men while daily facing the frustration of having their hands tied by the brutality of an outdated, ineffective, and brutal medical system.