In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here is my favorite poem from W.B. Yeats


I know this isn’t what we typically share on the site but it is St. Patrick’s Day and this is my favorite poem by my favorite Irish poet.

Adam’s Curse 
by W.B. Yeats
(First published in 1904)
 

We sat together at one summer’s end,
That beautiful mild woman, your close friend,
And you and I, and talked of poetry.
I said, ‘A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought,
Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.
Better go down upon your marrow-bones
And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones
Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather;
For to articulate sweet sounds together
Is to work harder than all these, and yet
Be thought an idler by the noisy set
Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen
The martyrs call the world.’
And thereupon
That beautiful mild woman for whose sake
There’s many a one shall find out all heartache
On finding that her voice is sweet and low
Replied, ‘To be born woman is to know—
Although they do not talk of it at school—
That we must labour to be beautiful.’
I said, ‘It’s certain there is no fine thing
Since Adam’s fall but needs much labouring.
There have been lovers who thought love should be
So much compounded of high courtesy
That they would sigh and quote with learned looks
Precedents out of beautiful old books;
Yet now it seems an idle trade enough.’

We sat grown quiet at the name of love;
We saw the last embers of daylight die,
And in the trembling blue-green of the sky
A moon, worn as if it had been a shell
Washed by time’s waters as they rose and fell
About the stars and broke in days and years.

I had a thought for no one’s but your ears:
That you were beautiful, and that I strove
To love you in the old high way of love;
That it had all seemed happy, and yet we’d grown
As weary-hearted as that hollow moon.

William Butler Yeats, in 1903

Here’s 4 Different Actors Reading Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven!


edgar-and-the-raven-paul-green

Let’s all wish Edgar Allan Poe a happy 207th birthday!  In honor of the occasion, here’s four different actors reading The Raven!

First here’s Vincent Price!

And now it’s time for Christopher Lee!

Check out James Earl Jones!

And, of course, we have to include Christopher Walken!

And here’s the poem, in all its glory.  Read it aloud in your own voice!

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
This it is and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore!

Boston Demands To Be Heard


The Los Angeles film critics weren’t the only ones to vote on their favorites of 2011 today.  The Boston Society of Film Critics voted today as well.  Now, as I’ve stated quite a few times on this site, I’m a Southern girl and I have a feeling that if I ever went up to Boston, everyone up there would ignore the fact that I’m an Irish Catholic and would probably just make fun of my accent.  Eventually, the conversation would turn to politics and I would let slip the fact that not only am I not a Democrat but I didn’t even vote for Barack Obama in 2008.  A big fight would follow and I imagine we wouldn’t even get around to talking about our favorite movies…

Sorry, I lost my train of thought there.  Anyway, the BSFC voted and here’s what they came up with:

Best Picture: “The Artist”

     Runners-up: “Hugo” and “Margaret”

Best Director: Martin Scorsese, “Hugo”

     Runner-up: Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”

Best Actor: Brad Pitt, “Moneyball”

     Runners-up: George Clooney, “The Descendants” and Michael Fassbender, “Shame”

Best Actress: Michelle Williams, “My Week With Marilyn”

     Runner-up: Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”

Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks, “Drive”

     Runner-up: Max Von Sydow, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”

Best Supporting Actress: Melissa McCarthy, “Bridesmaids”

     Runner-up: Jeannie Berlin, “Margaret”

Best Screenplay: Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chervin, “Moneyball”

     Runner-up: Kenneth Lonergan, “Margaret”

(If I was writing for AwardsDaily.com, I guess this is where I would say, NO MOVIE HAD A BETTER SCREENPLAY THAN THE SOCIAL NETWORK)

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, “The Tree of Life”

     Runner-up: Robert Richardson, “Hugo”

Best Documentary: “Project Nim”

     Runner-up: “Bill Cunningham New York”

Best Foreign-Language Film: “Incendies”

     Runners-up: “A Separation” and “Poetry”

Best Animated Film: “Rango”

Best Film Editing:  Christian Marclay, “The Clock”

     Runner-up: Thelma Schoonmaker, “Hugo”

Best New Filmmaker: Sean Durkin, “Martha Marcy May Marlene”

     Runner-up: J.C. Chandor, “Margin Call”

Best Ensemble Cast: “Carnage”

     Runner-up: “Margaret”

Best Use of Music in a Film: (tie) “Drive” and “The Artist”

     Runner-up: “The Descendants”

Special Commendations:

Ben Fowlie, Sara Archambault and Sean Flynn of DocYard

The Museum of Fine Arts for “The Clock”

The Brattle Film Foundation

Best Rediscoveries:

“The Shooting” at the Harvard Film Achive

“The Makota Sisters” at the Museum of Fine Arts

“Deep End” at the HFA

“Days and Nights in the Forest” at the HFA

“Children of Hiroshima” at the HFA

Obviously, the Boston Film Critics were big fans of Kenneth Lonergan’s film MargaretMargaret was actually filmed in 2007 but, because of various lawsuits between Longergan and the film’s producers, it was not actually released until September of this year.  Unfortunately, it only played down here for about a week and I didn’t get a chance to see it but hopefully, I will in the future.  If nothing else, I want to see it so I can have something other than politics to talk about if I ever go up to Boston.

The LAFCA Honors Terrence Malick, Michael Fassbender, and …. The Descendants?


For those of you who love to follow the Oscar race, today is a big day.  Several groups announced their picks for the best of 2011 today.  The most important of these groups would be the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.  Though the LAFCA has a pretty iffy record when it comes to predicting the actual Oscar winners, their picks still tend to influence the nominations. 

Here are the LAFCA winners, along with a little commentary from yours truly.

Best Musical Score: Hanna (runner-up: Drive)

There was a lot I liked about the LAFCA awards but this is the one that truly made me go: “Yay!”  Hanna was a great film that deserves a lot more attention than its been given.

Best Cinematography: The Tree of Life (Runner-up: The City of Life and Death)

Best Production Design: Hugo (runner-up: Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy)

Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain for Coriolanus, The Debt, The Help, Take Shelter, Texas Killing Fields, and The Tree of Life (runner-up: Janet McTeer for Albert Nobbs)

Considering that she has next to no range as an actress, Jessica Chastain is having a pretty good year.  I have a feeling she’ll win an Oscar in February and then eventually end up joining the cast of Law & Order: SVU.

Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer in Beginners (runner-up: Patton Oswalt in Young Adult)

As good as Plummer was in Beginners, think about how much more exciting it would have been if Oswalt had won.

Best Screenplay: A Seperation. (runner-up: The Descendants)

Best Documentary: The Cave of Forgotten Dreams (runner-up: The Arbor)

Again, let us consider that Werner Herzog’s masterpiece wasn’t even a semi-finalist as far as the Academy is concerned.

Best Independent/Experimental Film: Spark of Being

Best Actress: Yun Jung-hee in Poetry (runner-up: Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia)

Yay!  I am so bored with Meryl Streep.

Best Actor: Michael Fassbender for Shame, A Dangerous Method, X-Men: First Class, and Jane Eyre. (runner-up: Michael Shannon in Take Shelter)

Yay!  For both the winner and the runner-up. 

Best Director: Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life (runner-up: Martin Scorsese for Hugo)

I was on twitter when this result was announced and Oh. My. God.  My timeline like totally exploded with people getting all excited and hopeful.  And then, quite a few minutes later, all that excitement turned to rage as the next award was announced–

Best Picture: The Descendants (runner-up: The Tree of Life)

That’s right.  After going out on a limb with best actress and (debatably) best director and going out of their way to honor the unfairly neglected, the LAFCA gave best picture to one of the most overrated films of 2011 — The Descendants.  This despite the fact that The Descendants hadn’t won a single other award and was a runner-up in only one category.  That must have really loved that 2nd place screenplay.  This choice reeks of compromise, as if a group of critics decided to all unite and vote for their 2nd or 3rd choice in order to keep a more controversial films like The Tree of Life from winning.

That said, my pick for the best of 2011 remains Hanna.

Best Foreign Language Film: The City of Life and Death (runner-up: A Separation)

So, A Separation has a better screenplay than the best film of 2011, yet it’s not as good a film as The City of Life and Death.

New Generation award: Martha Marcy May Marlene

To recap, the three major critics groups have now spoken and each one has named a different film for best picture.  The National Board of Review went for Hugo, the New Yorkers went for The Artist, and the LAFCA went for The Descendants.

In fact, the Artist was totally ignored by Los Angeles and I’ve noticed that there seems to be a backlash developing against this film.  The Artist won’t be opening here until Dec. 21st so I can’t judge it but I would say that if you’re upset about about a French film like The Artist getting so much attention, don’t worry.  Maybe David Fincher will remake it with American actors next year.