The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Thursday


Chamber Music
By James Joyce


III

At that hour when all things have repose,
    O lonely watcher of the skies,
    Do you hear the night wind and the sighs
Of harps playing unto Love to unclose
    The pale gates of sunrise?

When all things repose do you alone
    Awake to hear the sweet harps play
    To Love before him on his way,
And the night wind answering in antiphon
    Till night is overgone?

Play on, invisible harps, unto Love,
    Whose way in heaven is aglow
    At that hour when soft lights come and go,
Soft sweet music in the air above
    And in the earth below.

--------

People were complaining in various places yesterday about the impenetrability or general unprettiness of Joyce, so here is a bit of Chamber Music which is all quite lovely and lyrical. The full cycle is here but be warned, I may use another segment of it as the poème du jour in the future.

We missed it because we were at the movies, but my son's little league team won last night and is now the division champion! I don't think he particularly cares; he is quite noncompetitive as an athlete, whereas he wants to be Sonic champion of the GameCube world. Sigh.

Was thinking about why De-Lovely did not blow me away despite all the things I liked about it, and I don't know why it took this long for it to hit me, but it comes down to the same problem I have with innumerable biopics about famous men, though in this case it's somewhat less conventional in structure: once again we get the adoring, sacrificing wife figure with absolutely no life or ambition of her own, other than not to get trapped in a position of abject abuse. June Allyson had more to do in The Glenn Miller Story than Ashley Judd's character gets here (that film has an extraordinary moment where his music is not coming out the way he wants, and she hums it differently and says, "Isn't that what the Negroes would play?" and he thus discovers the blue note). I don't care whether the guy's gay, straight or celibate, but if he has a wife I want her to have a life.

ETA: Hey, vertigo66, here are all the lyrics including the smutty verse Porter never intended for public performance:

You're The Top
By Cole Porter


At words poetic, I'm so pathetic
That I always have found it best,
Instead of getting 'em off my chest,
To let 'em rest unexpressed,
I hate parading my serenading
As I'll probably miss a bar,
But if this ditty is not so pretty
At least it'll tell you
How great you are.

You're the top!
You're the Coliseum.
You're the top!
You're the Louvre Museum.
You're a melody
From a symphony by Strauss
You're a Bendel bonnet,
A Shakespeare's sonnet,
You're Mickey Mouse.
You're the Nile,
You're the Tower of Pisa,
You're the smile
On the Mona Lisa
I'm a worthless check,
A total wreck, a flop,
But if, baby, I'm the bottom
You're the top!

Your words poetic are not pathetic.
On the other hand, babe, you shine,
And I can feel after every line
A thrill divine
Down my spine.
Now gifted humans like Vincent Youmans
Might think that your song is bad,
But I got a notion
I'll second the motion
And this is what I'm going to add;

You're the top!
You're Mahatma Gandhi.
You're the top!
You're Napoleon Brandy.
You're the purple light
Of a summer night in Spain,
You're the National Gallery
You're Garbo's salary,
You're cellophane.
You're sublime,
You're turkey dinner,
You're the time,
The time of a Derby winner
I'm a toy balloon
That's fated soon to pop
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

You're the top!
You're an arrow collar
You're the top!
You're a Coolidge dollar,
You're the nimble tread
Of the feet of Fred Astaire,
You're an O'Neill drama,
You're Whistler's mama!
You're camembert.
You're a rose,
You're Inferno's Dante,
You're the nose
On the great Durante.
I'm just in a way,
As the French would say, "de trop".
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

You're the top!
You're a dance in Bali.
You're the top!
You're a hot tamale.
You're an angel, you,
Simply too, too, too divine,
You're a Boticcelli,
You're Keats, you're Shelley,
You're Ovaltine!
You're a boom,
You're the dam at Boulder,
You're the moon,
Over Mae West's shoulder,
I'm the nominee of the G.O.P.
Or GOP!
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

You're the top!
You're a Waldorf salad.
You're the top!
You're a Berlin ballad.
You're the boats that glide
On the sleepy Zuider Zee,
You're an old Dutch master,
You're Lady Astor,
You're broccoli!
You're romance,
You're the steppes of Russia,
You're the pants
On a Roxy usher,
I'm a broken doll,
A fol-de-rol, a blop,
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

And Porter's parody of his own lyrics:

You're the top!
You're Miss Pinkham's tonic.
You're the top!
You're a high colonic.
You're the burning heat
Of a bridal suite in use,
You're the breasts of Venus,
You're King Kong's penis,
You're self-abuse.
You're an arch
In the Rome collection.
You're the starch
In a groom's erection.
I'm a eunuch who
Has just been through an op,
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

Today I have promised to take my children to see Garfield. I don't suppose I can bring a book light and read O'Brian during the movie. Maybe I can bring my Palm and attempt to write fic or something...
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