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 27, 2010

Poem of the Day: Percy Bysshe Shelley

To a Skylark

Hail to thee, blithe Spirit! 
     Bird thou never wert, 
That from Heaven, or near it, 
     Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art. 

Higher still and higher 
     From the earth thou springest 
Like a cloud of fire; 
     The deep blue thou wingest, 
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest. 

In the golden lightning 
     Of the setting sun, 
O'er which clouds are bright'ning, 
     Thou dost float and run; 
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun. 

The pale purple even 
     Melts around thy flight; 
Like a star of Heaven, 
     In the broad daylight 
Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight, 

Keen as are the arrows 
     Of that silver sphere, 
Whose intense lamp narrows 
     In the white dawn clear 
Until we hardly see -- we feel that it s there. 

All the earth and air 
     With thy voice is loud, 
As, when night is bare, 
     From one lonely cloud 
The moon rains out her beams, and Heaven is overflowed. 

What thou art we know not; 
     What is most like thee? 
From rainbow clouds there flow not 
     Drops so bright to see 
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody. 

Like a Poet hidden 
     In the light of thought, 
Singing hymns unbidden, 
     Till the world is wrought 
To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not: 

Like a high born maiden 
     In a palace tower, 
Soothing her love-laden
     Soul in secret hour 
With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower: 

Like a glowworm golden 
     In a dell of dew, 
Scattering unbeholden 
     Its aërial hue 
Among the flowers and grass, which screen it from the view!

Like a rose embowered 
     In its own green leaves, 
By warm winds deflowered, 
     Till the scent it gives 
Makes faint with too much sweet those heavy-wingéd thieves:

Sound of vernal showers 
   On the twinkling grass, 
Rain-awakened flowers, 
     All that ever was 
Joyous, and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass: 

Teach us, Sprite or Bird, 
     What sweet thoughts are thine:
I have never heard 
     Praise of love or wine 
That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine.

Chorus Hymeneal, 
     Or triumphal chant, 
Matched with thine would be all
     But an empty vaunt, 
A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want. 

What objects are the fountains 
     Of thy happy strain? 
What fields, or waves, or mountains? 
     What shapes of sky or plain? 
What love of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain? 

With thy clear keen joyance 
     Languor cannot be: 
Shadow of annoyance 
     Never came near thee: 
Thou lovest -- but ne'er knew love's sad satiety.

Waking or asleep, 
     Thou of death must deem 
Things more true and deep 
     Than we mortals deamm, 
Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream?

We look before and after,
     And pine for what is not: 
Our sincerest laughter 
     With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought. 

Yet if we could scorn 
     Hate, and pride, and fear; 
If we were things born
     Not to shed a tear,
I know not how thy joy we ever should come near. 

Better than all measures 
     Of delightful sound, 
Better than all treasures 
     That in books are found,
Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground!

Teach me half the gladness 
     That thy brain must know, 
Such harmonious madness 
     From my lips would flow 
The world should listen then -- as I am listening now.
--Percy Bysshe Shelley

I don't know whether to prefer the Shelley version or the Johnny Mercer-Hoagy Carmichael version. But then I don't really have to choose, do I?