Mar 08 2008
This weekend I started asking myself, What are some of the best uses of poetry in the movies? I can think of a handful of movies about famous poets, and a few more that use poetry in a powerful way — though, when I started writing them down, the list was not very long.
One of the first movies that I wrote down was “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” I still find the movie to be very funny. How can you go wrong with an appearance by Rowan Atkinson as a stuttering priest performing his first wedding ceremony? But the emotional heart of the movie, the scene that stays with you longest, is John Hannah’s truly moving reading of W. H. Auden’s “Funeral Blues” read for his dead partner…
|Four Weddings and a Funeral (DVD)|
by W. H. Auden
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone.
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling in the sky the message He is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever, I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
The power of this mournful poem, and of John Hannah’s reading of it, can be found by doing a search on the Internet. Half the time you find reference to the poem, you’ll find reference to the movie as well.
What are your favorite uses of poetry in the movies?