Last night it was ‘The Dead’, a DVD of the film from 1987 directed by John Huston, which held me spellbound. Thanks to my daughter for a late, much hinted at birthday present! Two of the creative courses that I teach online happen to have James Joyce’s ‘Dubliners’ as a set text, and to rally students who complain about this collection of short stories being too pessimistic or old-fashioned for them, I’ve suggested they take a look at two Utube clips from these short stories – for Araby http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3pUH1MfC9I and for ‘The Dead’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6isUZAw0CQQ Some have been moved to tears! (and that’s just the men)
So I finally got round to seeing the whole film, and was mesmerised by the great characterisation, unhurried pace and exquisite cameo detail. The poignant atmosphere of a Dublin household at the turn of the century, with its decaying gentility and folorn hopes is beautifully captured. Along with a steely hint of trouble to come on the Irish political stage, and a heritage of enchanting music (here’s another weepie, The Lass of Aughrim at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1CP5Lz2iHE ). It also left me eager to trace the poem which Huston inserted into the film, but which is not found in the original Joyce text: ‘Donal Og’, translated from the Irish by Lady Augusta Gregory, who was a friend to the poet W. B. Yeats and closely associated with the magical order of The Golden Dawn. But that’s a later post, and another story!
A quick search, and there it was at http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19457
Here’s the first verse:
It is late last night the dog was speaking of you;
the snipe was speaking of you in her deep marsh.
It is you are the lonely bird through the woods;
and that you may be without a mate until you find me.