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

Poem for Monday


Leda, After the Swan
By Carl Phillips


Perhaps,
in the exaggerated grace
of his weight
settling,

the wings
raised, held in
strike-or-embrace
position,

I recognized
something more
than swan, I can't say.

There was just
this barely defined
shoulder, whose feathers
came away in my hands,

and the bit of world
left beyond it, coming down

to the heat-crippled field,

ravens the precise color of
sorrow in good light, neither
black nor blue, like fallen
stitches upon it,

and the hour forever,
it seemed, half-stepping
its way elsewhere--

then
everything, I
remember, began
happening more quickly.

--------

Another by Phillips, whom Robert Pinsky compares in Sundays's Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World to ancient rhetoricians. "Pundits and politicians sometimes call on ancient, partly forgotten echoes in order to sound wise or authoritative. Instead of saying an outcome might be good or bad, they say it 'augurs well' or 'augurs ill,'" Pinsky writes. "Rhetoric deploys such ghostly, buried roots and invisible shadows of meaning for effect. So, too, does poetry, but often in an opposite kind of way -- digging meanings up and turning them in the light expressively."

We had a relatively quiet Sunday after being out a lot of Saturday, though we did some running around trying to get haircuts and completely struck out (the Hair Cuttery nearest us has closed; the Hair Cuttery in Congressional was mobbed, as was Cartoon Cuts, still our default since the kids were very young). Finally we gave up and took the kids out for ice cream and did some grocery shopping. Stopped in the wine store and bought a bottle of Eiswein for our anniversary -- I'm pretty sure we've had this in my pagan circle, it's deliciously sweet -- and ate a bit of UK Cadbury, because what is a celebration without chocolate involved? apaulled got us tickets to go see Vienna Teng in concert on July 19th, so I am very happy about that, too.

In the evening Olney Theatre's Summer Shakespeare Festival was putting on The Tempest, so we packed our seat cushions and drove out there. It was a very good production -- a bit slow to get started, though there were pantomime performances of the tempest itself and the coup and aftermath during all the narration, but the magic segments were superbly done, with eerie music and beautiful lighting. The comedic actors playing Trinculo and Stefano were very funny and Caliban was terrific -- funny when he needed to be, powerful when he needed to be. Miranda was far more earthy than I've ever seen her portrayed before but it wasn't particularly distracting. Prospero was probably the weakest link, as he had terrific stage presence and did the major speeches beautifully, but kept blowing minor lines with obvious stammering.

It was a good time to see The Tempest for a couple of reasons. For one, the production emphasized the New World savages theme where Caliban and Prospero's spirits were concerned, which ties in nicely with all the Jamestown stuff we've done recently. And for another, I'd been discussing with a friend of mine whether the Doctor is being used as a Christ figure (with Rose and Martha as his disciples/preaching the gospel -- she sees this more than I do) and the theme of forgiveness on both Doctor Who and Torchwood, and seeing the play made me realize there are some obvious parallels not so much with New Testament forgiveness as with Prospero, Antonio and Caliban. Essay possibly to follow.


The tempest at the start of The Tempest, here portrayed with cloth and staffs.


This was a fairly minimal production where set and props were concerned, and the costumes were simple, not Elizabethan. Here Prospero tells Miranda of his perfidious brother.


Miranda was a bit butch and fairly loud in her complaints, not only out of passion for the poor sailors...


...but because she wanted that hunk Ferdinand for herself. She was pretty earthy when the other men showed up, though; "O brave new world" was performed with much ogling.


Here is Ariel (who was terrific -- the play was to some extent realized as a Prospero-Ariel love story in which the proof of love was that they couldn't be together) putting Alonzo and Gonzalo to sleep.


The sun finished setting right around the intermission, so the play was finished in darkness with torches all around the stage, which made the magic scenes look fantastic. Unfortunately they were impossible to photograph. Here, just after the intermission, are Caliban, Stefano and Trinculo.
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