Happy Poetry Month!
The wonderful “pÕÎ-trÉ” blog has a terrific selection of poems about movies. And there have been great movies about poets like “The Barretts of Wimpole Street” (about the courtship of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning), An Angel at My Table (about Janet Frame) and the documentaries about Rumi, Billy Collins, and Charles Bukowski. And the movie Deliverance was based on a novel by the poet James Dickey.
Many movies take their titles from poems, like A Raisin in the Sun, which comes from a poem by Langston Hughes and Invictus.
Characters in movies often recite poetry. Movies are written by writers, after all, and writers love words. In “Awakenings,” “The Panther” by Rilke illustrates the isolation and bleakness of a patient’s inner life:
His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.
As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.
Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly–. An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.
One of the most memorable scenes in “Four Weddings and a Funeral” is the heart-breaking funeral service with W.H. Auden’s Funeral Blues:
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
And a few more of my favorite poems:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
– William Shakespeare
I went to the dances at Chandlerville,
And played snap-out at Winchester.
One time we changed partners,
Driving home in the moonlight of middle June,
And then I found Davis.
We were married and lived together for seventy years,
Enjoying, working, raising the twelve children,
Eight of whom we lost
Ere I had reached the age of sixty.
I spun, I wove, I kept the house, I nursed the sick,
I made the garden, and for holiday
Rambled over the fields where sang the larks,
And by Spoon River gathering many a shell,
And many a flower and medicinal weed–
Shouting to the wooded hills, singing to the green valleys.
At ninety-six I had lived enough, that is all,
And passed to a sweet repose.
What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness,
Anger, discontent and drooping hopes?
Degenerate sons and daughters,
Life is too strong for you–
It takes life to love Life.
Edgar Lee Masters
And this one, which I’ve quoted before — not a great poem, but a beautiful thought:
Hard words will break no bones:
But more than bones are broken
By the inescapable stones
Of fond words left unspoken.