The Darkling Thrush
By Thomas Hardy
I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.
The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fevourless as I.
At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.
Have spent the last two hours watching Truly Madly Deeply and crying my eyes out so forgive me for any incoherence. I'd managed not to get around to renting it and it was on LOVE (one of those high-number cable channels) earlier, so I stuck in a tape while we were out hiking at Great Falls -- because it was in the 40s, and after the rain yesterday we figured the river would be spectacular, and the kids needed to stretch their legs -- then we stopped at the grocery store for last-minute necessities, had dinner with my parents, and when we got home, after eventually herding the kids into the shower and to bed, I put it on because I had no idea. I knew that Rickman played a ghost, but I think I was expecting something comic about the foibles of dealing with the afterlife.
I can't remember the last movie I've seen that hurt so much to watch; even good movies that deal with death via fantasy, like Finding Neverland, suddenly pale in comparison. In a way it was the perfect movie for the season for me; it deals with spiritual themes without resorting to mainstream religion, it's entirely focused on love and forgiveness and letting go and the things that never leave. It's on again on LOVE twice on the 28th and once on the 29th and Alan Rickman sings and plays the cello and is snarky and sexy and somewhat goofy and Juliet Stevenson is just phenomenal, and I cannot recommend it highly enough, though for people who want to stay in a festive holiday mood it might be better to record and watch it later.
Anyway, it was a low-key Christmas Eve around here since we don't celebrate when we're not with my in-laws, and tomorrow we are going with my parents to see Phantom of the Opera and then out for Chinese food. Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday, a wonderful break or at least a wonderful Friday night if you live in a part of the world that manages to be unaffected by Christmas. Oh, and The Theban Band has decided to give all us Aubrey/Maturin fans a present -- thanks to missizzy for leading me astray there.
...and ice crystals on the grass and leaves near the river's edge.
The Potomac River was very muddy and fast as a result of all the rain we got yesterday, and the park (which officially closed at two) was nearly deserted by late afternoon.
apaulled said the big rock formation at left looks like a big sleeping dog, but I took the photo because of the interesting cloud patterns...
...which later resolved into this amazing sunset (photo taken from Potomac Village gas station, sorry about all the clutter).
And here, facing east at twilight, the moon over a church. Not a great photo but it seemed appropriate for Christmas Eve.