First there was the twitch of the olive leaf lipping its stem, then the sigh of silt, settling, and the surrender of crickets, their legs, like fans, folding, when the trill of a brook, intoxicating, irresistible, like the grace of his Lord, carried him away that evening— no chariot for Enoch at the age of 365 who walked with God and simply like the last day in a year was no more.
This time of year, what with bulbs bursting through to light, crashing headlong into color, puff balls of sudden pink, cloud clumps of eager violet and white crowding, clustering, clambering up and along each naked stem and branch, what with the gray lawn’s sweet, impulsive greening, the chill creek’s snow-melt speedy surface coat of foam and flashing ripples, what with these birdsong brimming dawns, these chirping, marsh-born, peeper chants that hymn the day to rest, what with such hastening, glad abandon rushing, coursing, flooding, charging toward life, tales of a vacant tomb, of bindings cast like scattered husks and the rumbling of a cold, dead rock to clear the way for all that is to come, such tales seem almost natural. What else should we have expected, after all?
Mountain climbing may be one of the few modern dramatic subjects that contain the key elements of Greek tragedy: terror and folly, hubris and courage. You get a staggering sense of all four in Touching the Void, Kevin Macdonald’s film of Joe Simpson’s book.
In the 1927 silent version of The King of Kings, directed by Cecil B. DeMille, Christ is first seen from the point of view of a blind man regaining his sight. It is a masterful touch that adds grandeur to the story. Over the decades, scores of films have been made about Jesus of Nazareth. Many of these productions dripped with Hollywood glitz, while others tackled serious issues of faith.
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).