It’s the first of April! A day of pranks, pratfalls and poetry. Poetry? Yes, poetry, verse, balladry, poesy, doggerel. Poetry. April is National Poetry Month (donchaknow) and instead of trying to prank you today, I thought I would take a moment and look at the best uses of poetry in film. We’re going to pretend that film where Cameron Diaz learned to read and then stumblewept her way through e.e. cummings never happened. If I missed your favorite, let me know…mayhap in meter and rhyme? Is that asking too much? Then a haiku will do.
1. John Hannah—“Four Weddings And A Funeral
Poem: W.H. Auden’s “Funeral Blues”
Best Lines: He was my North, my South, my East and West, My working week and my Sunday rest.
2. Sarah Polley—“The Sweet Hereafter”
Poem: Robert Browning’s “The Pied Piper of Hamelin”
Best Lines: It’s dull in our town since my playmates left! I can’t forget that I’m bereft of all the pleasant sights they see, Which the Piper also promised me.
3. Alan Rickman—“Sense and Sensibility”
Poem: Edmund Spenser’s “The Faerie Queene V, ii, 39”
Best Lines: For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought.
4. Meryl Streep in “Out of Africa”
Poem: A. E. Houseman’s “To An Athlete Dying Young”
Best Lines: Smart lad, to slip betimes away, From fields where glory does not stay, And early though the laurel grows, It withers quicker than the rose.
5. Marlon Brando—“Apocalypse Now: Redux”
Poem: T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men”
Best Lines: This is the way the world ends, This is the way the world ends, This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang but a whimper.
6. Ben Whishaw—“Bright Star”
Poem: John Keats’s “La Belle Dame San Merci”
Best Lines: And there she lulled me asleep, And there I dreamed - Ah! woe betide! - The latest dream I ever dreamt On the cold hill side.
7. Kirsten Dunst—“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”
Poem: Alexander Pope’s “Eloisa to Abelard”
Best Lines: How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
8. Rutger Hauer—“Blade Runner”
It’s not an actual poem, but oughtn’t it be? Hauer ad libbed my favorite part.
Best Lines: All those … moments will be lost in time, like tears…in rain.
Time to die.
9. Kenneth Branaugh—“Henry V”
William Shakespeare’s “St Crispin’s Day Speech”
Best Lines: We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile.
Joanna Robinson scrambles up onto her desk. “This is for Dustin Rowles. Ahem. ‘O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful’-Huh what? It’s about a dead guy? Oh, never mind, carry on.”