Monday, January 17, 2011

Poem for Monday and 'John Gabriel Borkman'

To Brooklyn Bridge
By Hart Crane


How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest
The seagull's wings shall dip and pivot him,
Shedding white rings of tumult, building high
Over the chained bay waters Liberty--

Then, with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes
As apparitional as sails that cross
Some page of figures to be filed away;
--Till elevators drop us from our day . . .

I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights
With multitudes bent toward some flashing scene
Never disclosed, but hastened to again,
Foretold to other eyes on the same screen;

And Thee, across the harbor, silver-paced
As though the sun took step of thee, yet left
Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,--
Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!

Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft
A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,
Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,
A jest falls from the speechless caravan.

Down Wall, from girder into street noon leaks,
A rip-tooth of the sky's acetylene;
All afternoon the cloud-flown derricks turn . . .
Thy cables breathe the North Atlantic still.

And obscure as that heaven of the Jews,
Thy guerdon . . . Accolade thou dost bestow
Of anonymity time cannot raise:
Vibrant reprieve and pardon thou dost show.

O harp and altar, of the fury fused,
(How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)
Terrific threshold of the prophet's pledge,
Prayer of pariah, and the lover's cry,--

Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift
Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars,
Beading thy path--condense eternity:
And we have seen night lifted in thine arms.

Under thy shadow by the piers I waited;
Only in darkness is thy shadow clear.
The City's fiery parcels all undone,
Already snow submerges an iron year . . .

O Sleepless as the river under thee,
Vaulting the sea, the prairies' dreaming sod,
Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend
And of the curveship lend a myth to God.

--------

Poem because we saw it from the van (along with the Statue of Liberty, the Chrysler Building, and lots of other landmarks) from the van en route to Brooklyn. I have had a completely awesome day. Drove to New York with my family and Dementordelta, watched What a Girl Wants in the car because some of us wanted fluffy Colin Firth in leather pants. (I totally loved the film -- I hadn't seen it because I thought it was an annoying teen dream about a girl finding out she was a British aristocrat, I didn't realize it was the classic fantasy of a child wanting her parents to get back together, though I wish there hadn't been so many Mean Girl stereotypes.) We ate lunch at a Jersey Turnpike rest stop, then drove into Brooklyn, walked around for an hour, and went to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to see John Gabriel Borkman, that lighthearted comedy by Ibsen...just kidding, of course, it's as bleak as anything in Ibsen canon, but with Alan Rickman, Lindsay Duncan, and Fiona Shaw in the lead roles, it still has lots of funny moments and really sharp, powerful performances (I must admit that, while it was Rickman and Duncan whom I had really wanted to see, Shaw was the absolute standout and at the Artists' Talk afterward she was brilliant, witty and hilarious).

My day had only one serious sad moment: when the Woody Allen caricature New Yorkers sitting behind us, having the most pretentious conversation about Theatre I've ever heard, mentioned that Laura Linney's father had died. Romulus Linney was Paul's and my teacher at Penn and a really great guy. We got to see several fans we knew from LiveJournal both at intermission and at the Artists' Talk (we snuck out to Subway for dinner in between). The questions the moderator asked ranged from esoteric to ridiculous -- piles of pretentious quotes from critics and writers, weird blathering about playing empty characters (at one point he noted that Fiona Shaw would be speaking on Nothingness later in the week and she said very dryly, "I'm practicing now"). The questions from the audience, though, were worse in most cases ("Mr. Rickman, I'd like to impress you with my vocabulary and knowledge not only of your career, but of things you've said about it previously"). We decided to forego the fangirl crush at the stage door, in part so we could get to our hotel over the bridge and watch the Golden Globe Awards so we could see Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush -- I am quite bummed Geoffrey didn't win, but he must be very happy to be Colin's Geisha Girl, as Colin says, and of course I want to congratulate Colin and his "triangle of man-love." At least New York is a happy city tonight because the Jets beat New England, which is just fine with me! I only took a couple of photos and don't have time to post them because we are getting up early on Monday to go see Ellis Island and this:

2 comments:

drumslover said...

I was at the Artist Talk also and I couldn't agree with you more about the moderator and audience questions. Fiona Shaw was visibly getting irritated which only made her even more amusing and both Lindsay Duncan and Alan Rickman had some humerous lines as well! Nice review of your day in Brooklyn!

littlereview said...

Shaw was absolutely hilarious -- I was less familiar with her work than Rickman's and Duncan's, so I was delighted both at how stunning she is and how excellent her timing is in person. After the moderator's questions my friend and I were joking that we should have gone up and asked Rickman whether he'd rather be asked esoteric questions about theater criticism or "Who do you think is sexier, Snape or the Sheriff of Nottingham?"