Monday, April 28, 2008

The Cost of Living (as Don Grolnick Understood It)

If I ever start to feel jaded or a little weary with blogging, I now have a moment in time to turn my thoughts to for some instant renewal. That moment is when I first watched the video memorial that Matt Zoller Seitz created in tribute to his wife, Jennifer Dawson, on the second anniversary of her shocking death at 36.

A husband’s memory of his wife is one of the most personal experiences there is. In another age the artists offered their tributes in verse.

Milton wrote:

METHOUGHT I saw my late espoused Saint
Brought to me like Alcestis from the grave,


Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint,
Came vested all in white, pure as her mind:
Her face was vail'd, yet to my fancied sight,
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shin'd
So clear, as in no face with more delight.
But O as to embrace me she enclin'd
I wak'd, she fled, and day brought back my night.

It is an exquisite poem, particularly the last line, one of my favorite in all poetry. The poignancy of the beloved being alive and seen in the dream is heightened by the literal darkness that waking brought to the blind Milton.

Thomas Hardy wrote several poems about his wife Emma after she died, capturing her spirit here in how she never bothered with formal leave taking.

Without Ceremony

It was your way, my dear,
To be gone without a word
When callers, friends, or kin
Had left, and I hastened in
To rejoin you, as I inferred.

And when you'd a mind to career
Off anywhere -- say to town --
You were all on a sudden gone
Before I had thought thereon,
Or noticed your trunks were down.

So, now that you disappear
For ever in that swift style,
Your meaning seems to me
Just as it used to be:
'Good-bye is not worth while!'

And now a contemporary artist/filmmaker has added to the world’s sad and important in memoriam literature. It’s important because the generations who come later find comfort in knowing others have suffered the great pain, and dealt with it.

Matt’s in memoriam is not poetry, but a video on YouTube. It is a haunting piece set to the mastery of Tony Bennett singing “Some Other Time” accompanied by the incomparable Bill Evans. The words so beautifully add dimension to the images of a young woman who was daughter, wife, and mother.

"Where has the time all gone to?
Haven't done half the things we want to
Oh, well
We'll catch up some other time"

It’s all part of the revolution we are witnessing; that this haiku on the deepest experiences of LIFE—-told through images--combined with such towering talents as Bennett and Evans, is sitting on our desktop, as accessible as e-mail. I still find it extraordinary. I think the overall impact of this creativity will not be understood for many years, but I am certain that humanity, one individual at a time, is the better for it. And Matt's blog is the reason so many of us know him. His work drew us all back, the way the best blogs will.

I know that anyone who finds Matt’s video for Jennifer, say through the Bill Evans tag, will be moved by the love that embues it. And you just can’t ask for more, given the circumstances.

3 comments:

Christopher Campbell-Howes said...

It's curious that Hardy wrote the most compelling and beautiful love lyrics to Emma after her death, and I wonder if the last of the Late Lyrics recognizes some coming to terms with this?

'You slighted her that endureth all,'
Said my voice talking to me;
'Vaunteth not,trusteth hopefully;
That suffereth long and is kind withal,'

Said my own voice talking to me.

'You taught not that which you set about,'
Said my own voice talking to me;
'That the greatest of things is Charity...'
- And the sticks burnt low, and the fire went out,
And my voice ceased talking to me.

M.A.Peel said...

Christopher, that's an interesting idea. I think I will pick up Claire Tomlin's Hardy biography this summer.

Douglas said...

R.I.P.
Rena' Moon Huey 1/2/60-10/12/03
Your children miss you and I am lost...