To My Grandfathers
By W.S. Merwin
You who never laid eyes on each other
only one of whom I met only once
and he was the one whose wife could never
forgive him neither would most of their sons
and daughters for the red list of his sins
mainly drink and slipping off downriver
to leave them and live to be a nuisance
out in a shed that time I was brought over
to meet him before they took him away
and you who died when my mother was four
with your fond hopes your wing collar and your
Bessie there was nothing you had to say
to each other to form an influence
soundless as that of planets in their distance
From The Washington Post Book World's Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky, who says, "Merwin has inspired poets of his own generation and subsequent ones with the purity of his lyric gift: 'lyric' meaning a physical energy coursing through the sounds of words and sentences, fitted together so the effect is a little like singing, or as though the consonants and vowels were part of a stringed instrument, the lyre of speech. In the unpunctuated grace of his lines, Merwin may be the living poet whose imagination is most purely -- and with the most reliable illusion of ease -- poetic. He can seem to think and perceive poetically, as though with no intermediate stage of writing between perception and poem." Merwin's last book, Migration won the 2005 National Book Award in Poetry.
According to Pinsky, in his new volume Present Company, "the emotion expressed throughout is skeptical wonderment...each soul remains more mysterious than comprehended." The "particles of elegy" in the poems "demonstrate the power of imagination to restore conviction. That power is demonstrated all the better when it crosses distances, as the light from far-off stars can confirm certain principles in astrophysics. That simile is more or less explicit in 'To My Grandfathers,' which begins by defining how faint, remote and defective this particular human connection is...this drinking and abandoning man and the other grandfather, known even less, represent the way in which elements that indirectly form us and determine our fates go mostly unperceived. The intimacy of the second-person address in this book yearns across distance. The poems speak much less frequently to actual people than to ideas or objects or the departed. Often, as with the grandfathers, imagining a conversation is a way of acknowledging that it cannot take place...speaking in wonderment at how many things are invisible or absent yet full of 'influence,' the poems imagine speaking as a process of understated incantation: marveling at the unseen, and in a soft voice summoning its presence."
My day consisted of writing one article on how Rick Berman says that, like Brannon Braga, he does not expect to be involved in the next Star Trek television series, and another article on Shawn Piller's eulogy for his beloved father and writing partner. Then I answered some mail, put my book and the kids' Nintendo DSs in my bag and went to see HP:GOF again. This was really an all-day activity, as we had to leave the house before 2 for a 3:15 movie (and we were by no means the first ones in line -- in fact, the 3:25 line was longer when we got there than the 3:15, probably because the 3:15 was open for purchases at the box office and by Fandango many days before they scheduled the 3:25 show, so that was where the walk-ins were being directed).
Unlike Friday, the theater Saturday was absolutely packed, mobbed with both younger children and loud teenagers, yet it was absolutely silent twice: when the Awful Thing happens near the end of the movie, and during the entirety of the King Kong trailer. (It was a particularly rich trailer schedule -- Aeon Flux, Superman Returns, Ice Age 2, Lady in the Water, The Shaggy Dog, Cheaper By the Dozen 2, Happy Feet...there were others, I just can't remember.) We weren't out of there till after 6, so we stopped at California Tortilla to grab some free chili and burritos with our coupons, then came home so the kids could finish their Hebrew school homework and I wrote gratuitous smut for ldybastet. I liked the movie just as much as yesterday, noticed a couple of new things but nothing shattering, mostly had my dislikes reinforced and laughed just as hard at the same moments. And how did I miss that second of Daniel Radcliffe's naked butt the first time, even if he looks so ridiculously young to me in the bathtub that I was embarrassed to be sitting near people who were whistling?
Lucius is still hot. On his knees to Voldemort he is still hot. (Note: I do not read anything sexy/submissive in this at all. He seems rather annoyed that Voldemort has returned and seriously pissed when his loyalty is questioned; this is not a man who is quaking in his boots, he is just this side of defiant. He's much kinkier biting Harry from below with the snake!cane and dragging him forward. He's totally unconcerned about Harry seeing him among the Death Eaters, swearing loyalty to Voldemort, figuring that either Voldemort is going to kill Harry or Harry is going to get away and no one's going to believe him, but I still think he's going to back the winner, whoever it is.
I forgot to mention last time how much Filch's premature cannon problems made me howl. And the scene where the dragon tears through the stands, knocking McGonagall on top of Snape in that big professor pile. I squinted in the background and could find no evidence of Snape and McGonagall dancing at the Yule Ball -- please tell me that I am wrong and can see this in slo-mo on the DVD (or tell me that Snape was dancing with Karkaroff and I will be equally happy). But I did like that Fred and Angelina were making out in the background while Hagrid was snuggled up to Mme. Maxime.
I keep reading people slamming Emma Watson and praising Rupert Grint. This makes me think two things. One is that I agree that Rupert gives the best performance of the three main kids, but that is because all he has to do is 1) look pissed, 2) look worried and 3) look horrified, all of which we already knew were in his repertoire from previous films and clearly the director played to his strengths. His comic timing is quite good but that's about all he's there for. Emma, on the other hand, has to play a very different Hermione than in the past films -- somehow she started mothering Harry as well as being a better friend than Ron -- and she has some absolutely terrible dialogue that is not in the book. Does she overplay Hermione being miserable after the ball? Probably, but it's a moment of actual believable teenage girl emotion, and without SPEW and all the things that make her who she is, I do not begrudge that.
A sign of the end of fall from last weekend, a ladybug.