Place a stone in the palm of your hand; it lies there, inert, nothing but itself. It revels in its stoniness, its solidity. It gathers light, rises from the plains, a mountain in miniature, notches and ridges carved by weather, strata and stria, the pressure of time, the rough places, planed. A climber might try for the pinnacle, looking for toeholds in cracks and crevasses. The way up is never easy. The air thins. From the peak, the horizon falls away. Borders are meaningless. The stone rests in your hand. It sings its one long song. Something about eternity. Something about the sea.
Great plays tend to make mediocre movies. The elements that make a play successful don’t always provide the plot and visuals that are the keys to memorable cinema. Complicating matters further is the fact that theater is, by design, dialogue-heavy. The screenwriter who plans to cram long monologues or extended dialogues into the script is doomed.
You may sense it in the call of a Canada goose in flight a longing strong enough to carry an entire flock to their destination You may feel it in the grumble of a distant storm that dark dissatisfaction at what is in comparison with what will be The people who should never let us down let us down The cabin roof groans with the weight of so much snow The stairs in the old farmhouse complain with every footstep even with the memory of feet that move no longer The branches of an enormous oak moan in the high wind You many hear it in the spirituals nurtured in the cotton fields of the deep south a deep sorrow at temporal hopelessness distilled into hope for beyond Comin’ for to carry me home You may think you merely imagine it in the whistle of a train as it rumbles through a midnight crossing but the tracks through BC’s mountains were laid with the blood of Chinese navvies the sweat of abandoned dreams & the boxcars rolling through the prairies during the depression carried the last hope of the unemployed Don’t imagine that that wail has nothing to do with human grief Sometimes our wounds heal completely sometimes they leave a scar A woman learns of cancer in her breast a man finds his heart is failing We fall to our knees for a miracle & are startled when an answer seems to come a taste of what will be Hear the wind in the cavity where the siding is loose Hear it banging against the wall Sometimes our wounds don’t heal at all We fall to our knees but the sky grows grey featureless & silent We long for what we had what we almost had what will be You may sense it in the stillness of a beaver pond or in the rush over Niagara You may see it in the sunflower pushing through the soil reaching for the sky for the sun When we most identify with this world we are least content
Like many John Le Carré novels, The Constant Gardener boasts a gripping, intricately plotted narrative that makes it ideal for the movies. In the years since the Berlin Wall tumbled and the Soviet Union collapsed, the master of the cold war espionage thriller has turned his attention to thorny moral issues in other parts of the world.
The diaries of World War I poet Siegfried Sassoon have been digitized and made available to the public by the University of Cambridge. Sassoon, a British soldier, was quickly disillusioned by the war and became an outspoken war critic. His diaries feature poetry, prose, and drawings and include his 1917 antiwar “Soldier’s Declaration,” which got him committed to a hospital for the duration of the war. He described the first day of the Battle of Somme as a “sunlit picture of hell” (BBC, July 31).