The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Wednesday

Alexandrian Kings
By C.P. Cavafy

The Alexandrians were gathered
to see Cleopatra's children,
Caesarion, and his little brothers,
Alexander and Ptolemy, whom for the first
time they lead out to the Gymnasium,
there to proclaim kings,
in front of the grand assembly of the soldiers.

Alexander -- they named him king
of Armenia, Media, and the Parthians.
Ptolemy -- they named him king
of Cilicia, Syria, and Phoenicia.
Caesarion stood more to the front,
dressed in rose-colored silk,
on his breast a bouquet of hyacinths,
his belt a double row of sapphires and amethysts,
his shoes fastened with white
ribbons embroidered with rose pearls.
Him they named more than the younger ones,
him they named King of Kings.

The Alexandrians of course understood
that those were theatrical words.

But the day was warm and poetic,
the sky was a light azure,
the Alexandrian Gymnasium was
a triumphant achievement of art,
the opulence of the courtiers was extraordinary,
Caesarion was full of grace and beauty
(son of Cleopatra, blood of the Lagidae);
and the Alexandrians rushed to the ceremony,
and got enthusiastic, and cheered
in greek, and egyptian, and some in hebrew,
enchanted by the beautiful spectacle --
although they full well knew what all these were worth,
what hollow words these kingships were.


Things I loved about Alexander: he was really gay. From various interviews with Oliver Stone et al, I expected him to be primarily heterosexual with a couple of tiny nods to his affection for Hephastion. No: he was gay, with a couple of nods to having liked sex with women on occasion. And Colin Farrell was pretty fearless about it, despite some pretty stereotypical stuff.

Things I did not love about Alexander: pretty much everything else about the movie. I was very glad we got to see it for free. I could write a long list of things that irked me, all of which come back to the screenplay, the score and the battle scenes being so overwrought that Troy seems restrained (and historically accurate) by comparison. But I think I shall settle for mentioning that Val Kilmer is phenomenal and that Angelina Jolie can be remarkable even with terrible lines.

If you're short on funds, though, I'd recommend taping the History Channel special on Alexander and waiting for the Stone film to be on cable unless Farrell is a must-see for you. Maybe I will post some spoilers behind a cut tomorrow, but really I don't see the point, as they would mostly be negative and I suppose that people going in expecting to love it might find reasons to love it, as I did with National Treasure. If you want some idea of what to expect for three hours, though, leave me a comment.

Also, I can't really complain when the worst point of my day was realizing that I was bored at a movie I didn't pay for. I went out early to get Prisoner of Azkaban when Best Buy opened, met perkypaduan there (beeej, now that I am home I realize you did not get my e-mail of yesterday by this morning -- I am so, so sorry! I owe you lunch next week!) We went out for a late brunch after getting our DVDs, then I came home and wrote my articles and, you know, kind of had the movie on in the background to make sure the discs worked. I had intended to watch the deleted scenes with my children when they got home from school but things got a little chaotic with me trying to finish work and them trying to finish homework before I took them to my parents so apaulled and I could go out to the movie tonight, so I still haven't seen them. (If there's any Snape, Black or Lupin stuff in the extras that I might somehow miss, someone please come spoil me and tell me how to get to it!)

Must sleep now. Kids have school tomorrow, then we have a busy evening with all the cousins together!

Out the window of the Minerals and Gems exhibit at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum -- the domes on the National Gallery of Art, the Capitol Building, and, off in the distance behind the cranes, the Library of Congress.

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