The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Wednesday

Advice to a Prophet
By Richard Wilbur

When you come, as you soon must, to the streets of our city,
Mad-eyed from stating the obvious,
Not proclaiming our fall but begging us
In God's name to have self-pity,

Spare us all word of the weapons, their force and range,
The long numbers that rocket the mind;
Our slow, unreckoning hearts will be left behind,
Unable to fear what is too strange.

Nor shall you scare us with talk of the death of the race.
How should we dream of this place without us?--
The sun mere fire, the leaves untroubled about us,
A stone look on the stone's face?

Speak of the world's own change. Though we cannot conceive
Of an undreamt thing, we know to our cost
How the dreamt cloud crumbles, the vines are blackened by frost,
How the view alters. We could believe,

If you told us so, that the white-tailed deer will slip
Into perfect shade, grown perfectly shy,
The lark avoid the reaches of our eye,
The jack-pine lose its knuckled grip

On the cold ledge, and every torrent burn
As Xanthus once, its gliding trout
Stunned in a twinkling. What should we be without
The dolphin's arc, the dove's return,

These things in which we have seen ourselves and spoken?
Ask us, prophet, how we shall call
Our natures forth when that live tongue is all
Dispelled, that glass obscured or broken

In which we have said the rose of our love and the clean
Horse of our courage, in which beheld
The singing locust of the soul unshelled,
And all we mean or wish to mean.

Ask us, ask us whether with the worldless rose
Our hearts shall fail us; come demanding
Whether there shall be lofty or long standing
When the bronze annals of the oak-tree close.


Michael Dirda reviewed Wilbur's Collected Poems in the Sunday Washington Post Book World. He quotes Wilbur: "No poem of mine is ever undertaken as a technical experiment; the form, which it takes, whether conventional or innovating, develops naturally as the poem develops, as part of the utterance. Nor does my poem ever begin as the statement of a fully grasped idea; I think inside my lines and the thought must get where it can amongst the moods and sounds and gravitating particulars which are appearing there."

From Dirda I learned that Wilbur had translated Moliere and Baudelaire and wrote song lyrics for Leonard Bernstein's Candide. "Throughout his career Wilbur has shown, within the compass of his classicism, enviable variety. His poems describe fountains and fire trucks, grasshoppers and toads, European cities and country pleasures," Dirda writes. This new collection apparently includes his verse for children, show lyrics and some new poems. I love complete collected works.

Now that I have seen all of Finding Neverland, I must confess that I am not sorry it broke yesterday in the last ten minutes because I got to see it two days in a row and only pay for one, and this is a movie that is so worth seeing several times. And I realized that although I consider myself just sort of a casual fan of Kate Winslet, not a worshipper, she was in my two favorite films of 2004: this one and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Must consider adding her to my Favorite Actresses list. Meanwhile, does anyone here have a recommendation for a good biography of J.M. Barrie?

I need to write a long post about the film, but am too wiped out tonight. One of my favorite things, though, is the lack of the most obvious subtext, whose potential is such that every review I read mentioned the potential and it comes up as a point of discussion in the film. I was terrified of pedophilic overtones; that is an enormous squick of mine, and while I can cope with it in Peter Pan because the characters are all fictional, I was afraid something in Finding Neverland would hit my freakout button. It never did -- it's wonderful in its restraint, because there were moments when in my own (corrupted by "Neverland" a la Michael Jackson) brain, I was thinking, gee, this could have been portrayed just a shade more ambiguously, a shade more ominous. (I suppose it could be, in Willy Wonka -- same child and adult actors, which might be wonderful or might be really creepy.)

permetaform linked to this fascinating article: "Franz Ferdinand Don't Mind Being Coupled With Morrissey In Gay Fan Fiction". gblvr introduced me to their music not long ago and now I think I am crushing. And I never crush on musicians! Eek! I am also crushing over the new ROTK EE preview, like so many others; I think I am possibly, finally, starting to get excited about this film. I mean...that Faramir scene! But I reserve the right to change my mind so until I see it, I am not going to think about HoH fic.

Speaking of gblvr, I am having a long-postponed lunch with her tomorrow, and then an even longer-postponed lunch with beeej on Thursday so I am very happy about this. And for my birthday, my wonderful husband just told me that he is taking me to Philadelphia to see October Project! We are staying in a hotel on the river and the menu at the place where they're performing looks beyond divine: they have pumpkin ravioli! Now I need to get him a kick-ass Chanukah present and can't think what. Suggestions for the Grateful Dead/Phish fan who has everything? And incidentally, does anyone here have the new extended Mulan DVD -- is it worth getting even if we have the original Mulan DVD release? Are the deleted scenes good?

These are golden lion tamarins, one of the world's most endangered species.

In the summer they live outside in the trees on the walk from the bear enclosures, where the zoo is trying to breed a population.

In the winter they move indoors and can be seen in a great many of the exhibits in the Small Mammal House. The prairie dogs are in here too now, after the disaster in which the zoo tried to poison the rats living in their holes and accidentally killed the red pandas.

And here is a pygmy marmoset up in a log, with another crammed in behind whose tail may or may not be visible in this photo. I couldn't get a good picture but the naked mole rats live in the Small Mammal House, too. Incidentally, Maturin fans, the sloth lives there as well, though he was apparently asleep in the trees and we did not get to see him!

Have I mentioned, by the way, that the scene with the monkeys in Alexander was my second-favorite moment in the film? Shall try to get caught up later -- I know, I always say that. *g* Soon! I have finished Blue at the Mizzen, a very bittersweet moment, and am going to plunge directly into 21 as apparently I need more Aubrey/Maturin even if it isn't strictly canon. The nice thing about driving carpool is that I always end up with time to read while waiting for the bus...

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