A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Monday, March 8, 2010

Poem of the Day: Edward Thomas

The Path 

Running along a bank, a parapet 
That saves from the precipitous wood below 
The level road, there is a path. It serves 
Children for looking down the long smooth steep, 
Between the legs of beech and yew, to where 
A fallen tree checks the sight: while men and women 
Content themselves with the road and what they see
Over the bank, and what the children tell. 

The path, winding like silver, trickles on, 
Bordered and even invaded by thinnest moss 
That tries to cover roots and crumbling chalk 
With gold, olive, and emerald, but in vain. 
The children wear it. They have flattened the bank 
On top, and silvered it between the moss 
With the current of their feet, year after year. 
But the road is houseless, and leads not to school. 
To see a child is rare there, and the eye 
Has but the road, the wood that overhangs 
And underyawns it, and the path that looks 
As if it led on to some legendary 
Or fancied place where men have wished to go 
And stay; till, sudden, it ends where the wood ends. 
--Edward Thomas

One of the great victims of the murderous nonsense that was World War I, Thomas wrote under the influence of Robert Frost, who said once that Thomas's regrets were the inspiration for "The Road Not Taken." I have to say that I like Thomas's directness more than Frost's irony -- when I read Frost I always have to ask "what's he really getting at?" I picked "The Path," of course, partly to contrast with "The Road Not Taken," but also because of its prophetic poignancy. The wood ended too soon for Thomas.      

1 comment:

myth_of_Serpentry said...

The road is "level" and safe, fit for adults that wish to walk unimpeded,"content."

The wood is dicier, undomesticated, and somewhat borderless. The poet even gives it a formless, liquid image; it "trickles"; it is maintained by the "current" of children's feet.

In the end, the poet's adult character is developed, but only slightly so. So slightly, in fact, that it irks the reader -- the adult has kept or horded a place in his imagination for the wood, yet impractically so. This adult is the one that would have his child believe that the wood is all good and fun, for a while anyway..