Poetry in Film

film poetry

A good friend recently sent me an article from Flavor Wire titled 10 Famous Poems that Appeared in Film.” The selection is actually surprising.

William Blake is prominent on the list. There is mention of Jim Jarmusch’s cult 1955 Western “Dead Man,” which is supposedly based on the visionary poems of William Blake. And, there is mention of the now-classic film “Blade Runner,” also inspired by the poetry of William Blake. Excerpts from the English poet’s book “America, a Prophecy” recur throughout the noir film.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” is prominent in the heavyweight “Citizen Kane.” So its inclusion in the list is a must.

But, I was ignorant of the fact that Charles Bukowski had written a film, 1987’s “Barfly.” From its IMDB trailer and recap, the movie looks terrible. It might be worth watching just to pick up the fragments of Bukowski’s work that appear in the script.

My favorite item on the list, though, is Thomas Hood’s poem “Silence,” which appeared in “The Piano.” Although the poem fits the film beautifully, I enjoyed the reference more because it reminded me of how great the movie is, how much it deserves an entire, undistracted Sunday afternoon.

A big miss, though, is W.H. Auden’s “Funeral Blues” from “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” copied below.


Funeral Blues

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.


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