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

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Poem of the Day: Henry Vaughan

The World 

I saw eternity the other night 
Like a great ring of pure and endless light,
          All calm as it was bright; 
And round beneath it, Time, in hours, days, years, 
          Driven by the spheres, 
Like a vast shadow moved, in which the world 
          And all her train were hurled. 
The doting lover in his quaintest stran 
          Did there complain; 
Near him, his lute, his fancy, and his flights, 
          Wit's sour delights, 
With gloves and knots, the silly snares of pleasure, 
          Yet his dear treasure, 
All scattered lay, while he his eyes did pour 
          Upon a  flower. 

The darksome statesman, hung with weights and woe, 
Like a thick midnight fog, moved there so slow 
          He did nor stay nor go; 
Condemning thoughts, like sad eclipses scowl 
          Upon his soul, 
And clouds of crying witnesses without 
           Pursued him with one shout.
Yet digged the mole, and, lest his ways be found, 
          Worked undergrounds, 
Where he did clutch his prey. But one did see 
          That policy:
Churches and altars fed him; perjuries 
          Were gnats and flies;
It rained about him blood and tears, but he 
          Drank them as free. 

The fearful miser on a heap of rust 
Sat pining all his life there, did scarce trust 
          His own hands with the dust; 
Yet would not place one piece above, but lives 
          In fear of thieves. 
Thousands there were as frantic as himself, 
          And hugged each one his pelf: 
The downright epicure placed heaven in sense, 
          And scorned pretense; 
While others, slipped into a wide excess, 
          Said little less; 
The weaker sort, slight, trivial wares enslave,
          Who think them brave; 
And poor, despiséd Truth sat counting by
          Their victory. 

Yet some, who all this while did weep and sing, 
And sing and weep, soared up into the ring; 
          But most would use no wing. 
"O fools!" said I, "thus to prefer dark night 
          Before true light! 
To live in grots and caves, and hate the day 
          Because it shows the way,

The way which from this dead and dark abode 
          Leads up to God, 
A way where you might tread the sun and be 
          More bright than he!"
But, as I did their madness so discuss, 
          One whispered thus: 
"This ring the bridegroom did for none provide, 
          But for His bride."
--Henry Vaughan

This is Vaughan's Divina Commedia in miniature. The opening seven lines are among the most stunning I know of: They make me recall what the nighttime sky was like when I lived out of range of urban light pollution. But the satirical portraits that follow aren't bad either. Vaughan was a Welshman, which maybe explains my fondness for his poetry -- I'm Welsh on my mother's side of the family.         

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