Conjunctions:42 Cinema Lingua: Writers Respond to Film

Three Poems
Visions of the Daughters of Albion: A Screenplay

The bride of Heaven is Greer Garson.
In “Mrs. Miniver” God hears her
Breathing her white address into the emergency phone:

No help comes.

In the cinema of high-shoulders and the feathered toque
Even help is helpless.
And I am a bird in the cheap seats,
Calling backwards through the generations
Of Wise and Foolish Virgins—
Roberta, Aunt Mildred, Mother,
Can you see? Here is a new hat for each of you.
It is going to be war-time now, time for feathers,
And Mars, they tell me, has never been so close
To our spectacular and black & white Earth
As it is tonight. This is the movie we’ve chosen.
Nothing can stop the bombardment raining down
Upon the bride of Heaven in her white cottage, Starlings.


Jules and Jim

The sky was very near.
                                        Carved in stone
The sky was the hieratic face
                                                  Of Jeanne Moreau,
And the world was no place.

It was where Apollinaire had died.
It was where windmills did murder,
Where any man
                              Who is a pony only once
                              To only one child
Joined an army
Bringing death to the horses
                                                  And to the guitars inside them.

The sky was very near.
It had a girlfriend,
                              And thirty years later comes a letter
And a photograph too sad too vacant to describe
Although it is smiling.

Today the sky
                       In the Mojave desert is overfull
With sunrise and moonset.
                                             The morning star
Says a poem by Guillaume Apollinaire.
                                                              In the field over there
A wild pony runs with his music wild behind him in a cloud.

Because of a great movie
I have lived this far this long,
My worlds by worlds destroyed,
But never the sky, which is a girl
I can see through and see
All the boys running to be near her.


Auguries of Innocence: A Baseball Movie

Another time, according to Gilchrist,
One summer morning Blake saw
The haymakers at their work, and amid them
Angelic figures walking. Gilchrist’s word
Is “amid” and not “among,” meaning
The angels were at play in the home fields
And in the hearts of the haymakers.

Fast forward to the Vegetative Eye
Up in the bleachers, Ebbets Field
With the orphans and the black & white nuns.
Wm Blake becomes William Bendix, etc.
Angels in the Outfield, a cinema always shows,
Human hearts excel humanity, bursting forth
Out of breastbones or the spinning projectors
Into the open where they shine and live.

The word is “amid” and not “among.”
My heart has an angel in it, just like yours,
Daily more tired of the work of me,
Waiting out the harvest time,
Waiting for the show to begin.
We are the orphans of ourselves soon
Taken in, God willing, by great poets or almost any movie at all. 

Donald Revell is the author of sixteen collections of poetry, most recently of White Campion and The English Boat (both Alice James Books), as well as six volumes of translations from the French, including Apollinaire’s Alcools (Wesleyan), Rimbaud’s A Season in Hell, Laforgue’s Last Verses, and Verlaine’s Songs without Words (all Omnidawn). Winner of the PEN USA Translation Award and two-time winner of the PEN USA Award for Poetry, he has also won the Academy of American Poets’ Lenore Marshall Prize.