Transparent wins Best Comedy Series at GLAAD awards

Transparent creator Jill Soloway accepted the GLAAD award for Best Comedy Series last night in a beautiful and fun speech, the stage crowded with cast/writers/crew/producers. And yes, my good friend Alex is up there as well. Congratulations to everyone! I can’t wait for Season 2.

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Silhouettes and Shadows in Mildred Pierce (1945)

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Directed by Michael Curtiz
Cinematograpy by Ernest Haller

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Supernatural: Season 2, Episode 14: “Born Under a Bad Sign”

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Directed by J. Miller Tobin
Written by Cathryn Humphris

“Born Under a Bad Sign” is a fake-out, a tricky “Gotcha!”, it leads you down the wrong path, giggling behind its hand, and then it laughs in your face when the truth is revealed. Since “Playthings,” with Sam’s drunken plea to Dean, the situation has veered off into other areas, adding layers of difficulty to their lives. Sam “going dark side” has loomed like a specter since “Croatoan.” In “Born Under a Bad Sign” we get a taste of how bad it might get, but then … Ka-doink! the joke is on us. It’s just Meg getting some revenge. First time through, I was slightly annoyed by it all. Like, really? Y’all just faked me out? On further reflection, I think the fake-out works. (I’m a slow processor!) What ends up happening is that the anticipation of Sam going bad, of how Dean will handle it, of the rupture that is to come in their relationship … starts to BE the landscape of the show. It’s the anxiety in which they live, the air they breathe.

Continue reading

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Supernatural, Season 10, Episode Whatever: Open Thread

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I had hoped to get the “Born Under a Bad Sign” re-cap up today, but had a couple of work things I had to do – all good stuff that I’m excited about, but time-consuming. I should probably work on timing my re-caps better so they don’t conflict with the current season, but whatever, that’s too high-maintenance. In any case, here’s the open thread for tonight’s episode.

I won’t be watching tonight but will catch up with you all later!

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Happy Birthday, Wilfred Owen

“My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity.”

Wilfred Owen (now known as one of the best “war poets” of World War I) was born on this day in 1893. He was killed in battle in 1918 just seven days before the Armistice. He was 25 years old.

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Owen was unpublished during his lifetime. He is now recognized, along with Rupert Brooke, and Siegfried Sassoon, as one of those rare poets who can put the horror of warfare into verse. Trench warfare, in particular. (Yeats disagreed. He disliked Owens’ poems, and did not include him, or any of the “war poets”, in his The Oxford Book of Modern Verse, 1892-1935. Yeats wrote that Owen’s poems were “unworthy of the poet’s corner of a country newspaper”.) Owen was, of course, aware of Yeats, and used a quote from one of Yeats’s poems as an epigraph to one of his poems.

One of the most amazing things about these poems is the dates on them: September-October, 1917 / January 1918, etc. He is writing these poems in the thick of war. He is crouching in his tent scribbling these out. There is an immediacy to the verses, yes, and he is one of those sensitive souls who seems to have a larger-picture in his head, even in the midst of his day-to-day reality. He sees the slaughter. He feels the tragedy of it. His main burst of creativity was from August 1917 to September 1918. Terrible years.

He was not patriotic, or at least, his poems are not. One of his poems was addressed to Jessie Pope, a poet who wrote motivational patriotic poems urging young men to enlist. Owen criticized that attitude. His poems are Romantic, certainly, full of loss and grief at the waste. He references Shakespeare, Shelley, the Bible, Keats, maybe not explicitly but in the sounds and rhythms he chooses. He self-consciously wrote in those older forms, one of the reasons why his poems are so startling. World War I was, in a way, even more shattering, psychologically, than World War II, due to the newness of that kind of technologically advanced warfare. How would mankind go on, knowing what we can do to one another? How on earth will anything ever be rebuilt? This shattering of confidence and certainty was one of the driving forces of Modernism, as we know it, with poets like Ezra Pound and TS Eliot and Wallace Stevens and Yeats struggling to find language that would be able to HANDLE this new universe. It was a deeply destabilizing time. But Owen was not a modernist, although his poems are always included in those anthologies. His forms are archaic, and it is the form that gives his poems the feeling of elegies. For a lost world.

Owen was probably gay, and some of his earlier poems deal with having sensual urges towards other men, and it’s hard to say what would have happened to him should he have survived World War I. His journey towards poetry is really interesting.

He grew up in a small town in England (near the border with Wales). He drifted a bit, in terms of his schooling, due to financial constraints. He considered becoming a priest. But he had disturbing feelings about God’s inability to deal with human problems. He was a tutor for a while. When World War I broke out, he enlisted. In January, 1917, he was sent to the front. He found war glorious and exciting, similar to George Washington’s famous remark to his brother after his first experience with a battle in the French and Indian War: “I heard the bullets whistle, and, believe me, there is something charming in the sound.”

Wilfred Owen wrote home to his parents early on:

This morning I was hit! We were bombing and a fragment from somewhere hit my thumb knuckle. I coaxed out 1 drop of blood. Alas! No more!

The bloom soon was off the rose, and that following June, he was moved to a hospital because he suffered from shell-shock. (His heartwrenching poem “Mental Cases” is about shell-shock). He was transported back to England and then Edinburgh. He was a mess. It was in the hospital in Edinburgh that he met Siegfried Sassoon, and this would be the event that would change his short life. Sassoon was a captain in the army and a well-known poet. Sassoon encouraged Owen.

Owen wrote to Sassoon in November 1917:

I was always a mad comet; but you have fixed me.

Thus began his crazy output of poetry. Owen returned to the war in France in August 1918. He would be dead by November.

Sassoon published all of Owen’s poems posthumously, in 1920.

Wilfred Owen wrote to his mother on December 31, 1917:

I go out of this year a poet, my dear mother, as which I did not enter it. I am held peer by the Georgians; I am a poet’s poet. I am started. The tugs have left me; I feel the great swelling of the open sea taking my galleon.

Owen said, in regards to his war poems:

“These elegies are to this generation in no sense consolatory. They may be to the next. All a poet can do today is warn. That is why the true Poets must be truthful.”

It seems to me that his lack of interest in consoling his own generation is one of the reasons why his poems have lasted, and are anthologized, because they do rise up out of their own time into the universal.

Here are some of Wilfred Owen’s poems.

Anthem for Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,–
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

The End

After the blast of lightning from the east,
The flourish of loud clouds, the Chariot Throne;
After the drums of time have rolled and ceased,
And by the bronze west long retreat is blown,

Shall Life renew these bodies? Of a truth
All death will he annul, all tears assuage?-
Or fill these void veins full again with youth,
And wash, with an immortal water, Age?

When I do ask white Age he saith not so:
‘My head hangs weighed with snow.’
And when I hearken to the Earth, she saith:
‘My fiery heart shrinks, aching. It is death.
Mine ancient scars shall not be glorified,
Nor my titanic tears, the seas, be dried.’

On Seeing a Piece of Our Artillery Brought into Action

Be slowly lifted up, thou long black arm,
Great gun towering towards Heaven, about to curse;
Sway steep against them, and for years rehearse
Huge imprecations like a blasting charm!
Reach at that Arrogance which needs thy harm,
And beat it down before its sins grow worse;
Spend our resentment, cannon,–yea, disburse
Our gold in shapes of flame, our breaths in storm.

Yet, for men’s sakes whom thy vast malison
Must wither innocent of enmity,
Be not withdrawn, dark arm, thy spoilure done,
Safe to the bosom of our prosperity.
But when thy spell be cast complete and whole,
May God curse thee, and cut thee from our soul!

Futility

Move him into the sun–
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds,–
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,
Full-nerved– still warm,– too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
— O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all?

Mental Cases

Who are these? Why sit they here in twilight?
Wherefore rock they, purgatorial shadows,
Drooping tongues from jaws that slob their relish,
Baring teeth that leer like skulls’ tongues wicked?
Stroke on stroke of pain, — but what slow panic,
Gouged these chasms round their fretted sockets?
Ever from their hair and through their hand palms
Misery swelters. Surely we have perished
Sleeping, and walk hell; but who these hellish?

– These are men whose minds the Dead have ravished.
Memory fingers in their hair of murders,
Multitudinous murders they once witnessed.
Wading sloughs of flesh these helpless wander,
Treading blood from lungs that had loved laughter.
Always they must see these things and hear them,
Batter of guns and shatter of flying muscles,
Carnage incomparable and human squander
Rucked too thick for these men’s extrication.
Therefore still their eyeballs shrink tormented
Back into their brains, because on their sense
Sunlight seems a bloodsmear; night comes blood-black;
Dawn breaks open like a wound that bleeds afresh
– Thus their heads wear this hilarious, hideous,
Awful falseness of set-smiling corpses.
– Thus their hands are plucking at each other;
Picking at the rope-knouts of their scourging;
Snatching after us who smote them, brother,
Pawing us who dealt them war and madness.

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Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig!

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Jean, Me, in Dublin, the night the fuse blew at the disco and we all had to stand out on the street while Irish firemen and garda ran about in all their hot-ness.

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Siobhan, Jean, Me, in Dublin, same night. Here we are by the firetruck in the street, with our new best friend who had fallen in love with Jean about 10 minutes before, and actually was ready to beat people up on her behalf within 2 seconds of meeting her. And look at the random arms sticking up behind us. I have no idea who that is.

Now onto Elvis. Who never stepped foot in Ireland.

Or … did he??

I present to you an alternate-history story entitled: The Night Elvis Sang at the Theatre Royal in Dublin, by Éanna Brophy, a retired journalist from Dublin. I so thank Mr. Brophy for sending it to me to post on my site. I wish it were true! If it DID happen, you know that Elvis would indeed keep sending postcards throughout his life signed “Seamus”. Thank you, Mr. Brophy!

And, finally, for today, Elvis sings “Danny Boy”, a song he loved for years.

He eventually recorded the song for real in the Jungle Room in 1976 when things were not going well. The recorded version is slowed down, way down, and is beautiful (it’s a tough song to sing, daunting high notes launching out of nowhere) but I prefer the home recording of Elvis singing the song in 1959, while he was stationed in Germany.

His guitar playing is energetic and adorable, his voice is young, free, untrammeled, and passionate.

The song is important to me, and I feel so lucky that Elvis recorded it.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. And don’t be a douchebag out there.

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Sláinte!

Metallica singing “Whiskey in the Jar” in Dublin (with a mad hat-tip to Thin Lizzy’s version). Listen to that crowd singing in unison.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

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The Books: Finders Keepers: Selected Prose 1971-2001: ‘The Placeless Heaven: Another Look at Kavanagh,’ by Seamus Heaney

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On the essays shelf (yes, there are still more books to excerpt in my vast library. I can’t seem to stop this excerpts-from-my-library project. I started it in 2006!)

NEXT BOOK: Seamus Heaney’s Finders Keepers: Selected Prose 1971-2001.

Seamus Heaney talks a lot about his childhood, growing up in Ulster, a land of borders and boundaries, linguistic, social, economic, religious. These borders became interior for him, even before he knew what it meant. He was Irish. The approved literary canon was British only. He thrilled to good writing, no matter from what culture it came, but it was when he encountered the work of Patrick Kavanagh, that the roof exploded, exposing the full sky the full air, a voice that spoke of his own experience, his own background. It was a revelation, it was recognition, it was a reclamation for him. If you grow up being told, insidiously and overtly, that you are “lesser than”, and that your background is not relevant – or, at the very least, that the mainstream culture is the Default, and anything other than that is “Other” … then of course there will be shame/secrecy/weirdness around who you are. In a heightened and divided political environment, merely saying “Here is what I feel about things” becomes a radical act. Heaney absorbed that.

Patrick Kavanagh is one of the great writers of the 20th century, and one of the major voices of Ireland. Angry, wild, unbridled, talented, fearless … he wrote what he knew, and he wrote big and bold. I wrote a post about Patrick Kavanagh here, with some good background and quotes from others on his work.

Patrick Kavanagh saw his role as poet was to “name and name and name the obscure places, people, or events”. And that’s what he did. As a member of a hated minority, his “naming” was a huge threat to the status quo, to the canon, to the majority’s sense of itself. Not for him Yeats’s Celtic twilight and fairies dancing in the grass … No. He had no patience for the Anglo-Irish literary aristocracy that romanticized the Gaelic-speaking Irish Catholic poor. He was Catholic. He was poor. He was rural. He kept to that, kept to that voice, and spoke out the concerns, the ravaged history, the genocide (in his great epic poem “The Great Hunger” about the 1847 famine). Kavanagh was a political poet, for sure, but he was also a great writer of personal matters, his work keening with intense feeling, passion, an outcry against injustice, but always personal.

Like James Joyce, like Yeats (a man whose work he despised), Patrick Kavanagh is a giant looming on the Irish literary landscape. His reputation is more secure now but at the time of his writing he was sidelined. He was too Irish. Too pissed. Kavanagh took to his sidelining like a pissed-off martyr, consigned to oblivion, and taking that oblivion to mean that he had done something right. Nobody wanted to hear what he had to say. Well, FINE. I’m glossing over a lot – the man had a long career and a built-in audience. But he was not taught in schools and so this vital voice of native Ireland was kept out of that all-important canon. Patrick Kavanagh died in 1967, and he wrote up until the end (although he was a pretty bad alcoholic – some of his best work came late in life). Kavanagh took on big topics like the famine, but he also wrote about everyday life, the landscape and people and events of his surroundings. And it was this element that thrilled Heaney to no end. Why … this man comes from where I come from. And he wrote about it!!

That’s the subject of the following lecture, given by Heaney in 1985. Heaney gives a taste of what it was like growing up in Belfast at that time: There were no literary publishers, no poetry “scene” (he would help create that scene), no literary magazines, nothing. Heaney had been searching for Northern Irish poets, obscure or well-known, that spoke of their life there, that gave voice to a specific place/people. He went to Queen’s University in Belfast. He remembers not once being taught an Irish writer, let alone an Irish Ulster writer. He knew they were out there. There was Louis MacNeice. Thomas Kinsella. John Montague. But unlike Dublin, Belfast was a cultural wasteland. And then, at one point, Heaney’s headmaster leant him a copy of Kavangh’s “The Great Hunger.”

Excerpt from Finders Keepers: Selected Prose 1971-2001, ‘The Placeless Heaven: Another Look at Kavanagh’ by Seamus Heaney

Everything, at that time, was needy and hopeful and inchoate. I had had four poems accepted for publication, two by the Belfast Telegraph, one by The Irish Times and one by The Kilkenny Magazine, but still, like Keats in Yeats’s image, I was like a child with his nose pressed to a sweetshop window, gazing from behind a barrier at the tempting mysteries beyond. And then came this revelation and confirmation of reading Kavanagh. When I discovered ‘Spraying the Potatoes’ in the old Oxford Book of Irish Verse, I was excited to find details of a life which I knew intimately – but which I had always considered to be below or beyond books – being presented in a book. The barrels of blue potato spray which had stood in my own childhood like holidays of pure colour in an otherwise grey field-life – there they were, standing their ground in print. And there too was the word ‘headland’, which I guessed was to Kavanagh as local a word as ‘headrig’ was to me. Here too was the strange stillness and heat and solitude of the sunlit fields, the inexplicable melancholy of distant work-sounds, all caught in a language that was both familiar and odd.

The axle-roll of a rut-locked cart
Broke the burnt stick of noon in two.

And it was the same with ‘A Christmas Childhood.’ Once again, in the other life of print, I came upon the unregarded data of the life I had lived. Potato-pits with rime on them, guttery gaps, iced-over puddles being crunched, cows being milked, a child nicking the doorpost with a penknife and so on. What was being experienced was not some hygienic and self-aware pleasure of the text but a primitive delight in finding world become word.

I had been hungry for this kind of thing without knowing what it was I was hungering after. For example, when I graduated in 1961, I had bought Louis MacNeice’s Collected Poems. I did take pleasure in that work, especially in the hard-faced tenderness of something like ‘Postscript from Iceland'; I recognized his warm and clinkered spirit, yet I still remained at a reader’s distance. MacNeice did not throw the switch that sends writing energy sizzling into a hitherto unwriting system. When I opened his book, I still came up against the window-pane of literature. His poems arose from a mind-stuff and existed in a cultural setting which were at one remove from me and what I came from. I envied them, of course, their security in the big world of history and poetry which happened out there, far beyond the world of state scholarships, the Gaelic Athletic Association, October devotions, the Clancy Brothers, buckets and egg-boxes where I had had my being. I envied them, but I was not taken over by them the way I was taken over by Kavanagh.

At this point, it is necessary to make one thing clear. I am not affirming here the superiority of the rural over the urban/suburban as a subject for poetry, nor am I out to sponsor deprivation at the expense of cultivation. I am not insinuating that one domain of experience is more intrinsically poetical or more ethnically desirable than another. I am trying to record exactly the sensations of one reader, from a comparatively bookless background, who came into contact with some of the established poetic voices in Ireland in the early 1960s. Needless to say, I am aware of a certain partisan strain in the criticism of Irish poetry, deriving from remarks by Samuel Beckett in the 1930s and developed most notably by Anthony Cronin. This criticism regards the vogue for poetry based on images from a country background as a derogation of literary responsibility and some sort of negative Irish feedback. It is also deliberately polemical and might be worth taking up in another context; for the moment, however, I want to keep the focus personal and look at what Kavanagh has meant to one reader, over a period of a couple of decades.

Kavanagh’s genius had achieved single-handedly what I and my grammar-schooled, arts-degreed generation were badly in need of – a poetry that linked the small farm life which had produced us to the slim-volume world we were now supposed to be fit for. He brought us back to what we came from. So it was natural that, to begin with, we overvalued the subject-matter of the poetry at the expense of its salutary creative spirit. In the 1960s I was still more susceptible to the pathos and familiarity of the matter of Kavanagh’s poetry than I was alert to the liberation and subversiveness of its manner. Instead of divesting me of my first life, it confirmed that life by giving it an image. I do not mean by that that when I read The Great Hunger I felt proud to have known people similar to Patrick Maguire or felt that their ethos had been vindicated. It is more that one felt less alone and marginal as a product of that world now that it had found its expression in a work which was regarded not just as part of a national culture but as a contribution to the world’s store of true poems.

Kavanagh gave you permission to dwell without cultural anxiety among the usual landmarks of your life. Over the border, into a Northern Ireland dominated by the noticeably English accents of the local BBC, he broadcast a voice that would not be cowed into accents other than its own. Without being in the slightest way political in its intentions, Kavanagh’s poetry did have political effect. Whether he wanted it or not, his achievement was inevitably co-opted, north and south, into the general current of feeling which flowed from and sustained ideas of national identity, cultural otherness from Britain and the dream of a literature with a manner and a matter resistant to the central Englishness of the dominant tradition. No admirer of the Irish Literary Revival, Kavanagh was read initially and almost entirely in light of the Revival writers’ ambitions for a native literature.

So there I was, in 1963, with my new copy of Come Dance with Kitty Stabling, in the grip of those cultural and political pieties which Kavanagh, all unknown to me, had spent the last fifteen years or so repudiating. I could feel completely at home with a poem like ‘Shancoduff’ – which dated from the 1930s anyhow, as did ‘To the Man after the Harrow’ – and with ‘Kerr’s Ass’ and ‘Ante-Natal Dream'; their imagery, after all, was continuous with the lyric poetry of the 1940s, those Monaghan rhapsodies I had known from the Oxford Book of Irish Verse. This was the country poet at home with his country subjects and we were all ready for that. At the time, I responded to the direct force of these later works but did not immediately recognize their visionary intent, their full spiritual daring.

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My Cousin Emma, aka Lil Freckles, Raps It Out: “Or was it Lebanon? Let’s move on.”

My cousin Emma, aka Lil Freckles, has a new video out. It rocks. Any rap that mentions Grey Poupon and Bradley Cooper is okay by me.

Listen, I was saying about her when she was a wise-cracking 3-year-old human, “That girl is a rock star.” That has now literally come to pass. Emma showed up mysteriously, in the Daily Mail, because of a Tweet from Lena Dunham, and she was also featured rapping in an episode of Girls, where Time magazine referred to her as “a fantastic female rapper.”

Just one more step in the O’Malley Takeover of the World.

Next week is my niece Beatrice’s one-year birthday party and I will get to catch up with Emma (excuse me, Lil Freckles) in person.

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“A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.”

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Here’s the moment in Shakespeare’s play where Caesar gets the warning from the soothsayer. And ignores it. Because wouldn’t we all ignore a warning from a random-crazy-person in the street? Especially if we live in an urban environment and have to deal with a lot of nutty people constantly? What, Caesar’s gonna be like, “OMG, tell me more”? No. And therein lies his ruin.

It is also hard to listen to anything anyone says when you are constantly bombarded by “flourishes”, as Caesar is.

SCENE II. A public place

Flourish.

Enter CAESAR; ANTONY, CALPURNIA, PORTIA, DECIUS BRUTUS, CICERO, BRUTUS, CASSIUS, and CASCA; a great crowd following, among them a SOOTHSAYER

CAESAR
Calpurnia!

CASCA
Peace, ho! Caesar speaks.

CAESAR
Calpurnia!

CALPURNIA
Here, my lord.

CAESAR
Stand you directly in Antonius’ way,
When he doth run his course. Antonius!

ANTONY
Caesar, my lord?

CAESAR
Forget not, in your speed, Antonius,
To touch Calpurnia; for our elders say,
The barren, touched in this holy chase,
Shake off their sterile curse.

ANTONY
I shall remember:
When Caesar says ‘do this,’ it is perform’d.

CAESAR
Set on; and leave no ceremony out.

Flourish

SOOTHSAYER
Caesar!

CAESAR
Ha! who calls?

CASCA
Bid every noise be still: peace yet again!

CAESAR
Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music,
Cry ‘Caesar!’ Speak; Caesar is turn’d to hear.

SOOTHSAYER
Beware the ides of March.

CAESAR
What man is that?

BRUTUS
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

CAESAR
Set him before me; let me see his face.

CASSIUS
Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Caesar.

CAESAR
What say’st thou to me now? speak once again.

SOOTHSAYER
Beware the ides of March.

CAESAR
He is a dreamer; let us leave him: pass.

A psychic told me some years ago that I would meet my future husband the following year, and he would be blonde. Although I did end up dating someone that following year who happened to be blonde, it ended … not really poorly … but weirdly. In fact, I refer to him as Jackass McGee. So Caesar writing The Soothsayer off as a nutter is understandable.

I just re-read Julius Caesar, in my ongoing Shakespeare Chronological Reading project. The conspiracy scene is one of my favorites in the play: Act II Scene 1.

The conspirators go visit Brutus at his house, and they stand in the orchard, and decide to do the deed on the morrow.

Here’s a fun exercise: read it out loud and notice how often Shakespeare uses the letter “s” in the scene, or an “s” sound. First of all, all of their names have “s”s in them. There’s an “s” sound in almost every sentence. So when you hear the language, just the sound of it, never mind what the words that they’re actually saying, it sounds like a bunch of snakes hissing. It SOUNDS like gossip. “Psst.” “Psst.” “Whissssper …” “Whisssper” “Psst …”

“S” is a sound that carries. If people are whispering over the water cooler about the layoffs coming down, they’re pretty safe in not being overheard if they say vowel sounds: “o” or “e” doesn’t really carry, but an “S” will ricochet across an office as though there is a megaphone attached to it.

That’s the effect that Shakespeare has achieved in the sounds in this scene. The theme of the scene is in the language itself. Ssssssssss gives an impression of a crowd of men whispering “psst”, the hissing ‘psst” whisper of conspiracy.

Re-enter LUCIUS.

LUCIUS.
Sir, ’tis your brother Cassius at the
door,
Who doth desire to see you.

BRUTUS.
Is he alone?

LUCIUS.
No, sir, there are more with him.

BRUTUS. Do you know them?

LUCIUS.
No, sir; their hats are pluck’d about
their ears,
And half their faces buried in their cloaks,
That by no means I may discover them
By any mark of favour.

BRUTUS. Let ‘em enter.

[Exit LUCIUS.

They are the faction. O conspiracy!
Sham’st thou to show thy dangerous brow by
night,
When evils are most free? O! then by day
Where wilt thou find a cavern dark enough
To mask thy monstrous visage? Seek none, con-
spiracy;
Hide it in smiles and affability:
For if thou path, thy native semblance on,
Not Erebus itself were dim enough
To hide thee from prevention.

Enter the Conspirators, CASSIUS, CASCA,
DECIUS,CINNA, METELLUS CIMBER,
and TREBONIUS.

CASSIUS.
I think we are too bold upon your rest:
Good morrow, Brutus; do we trouble you?

BRUTUS.
I have been up this hour, awake all
night.
Know I these men that come along with you?

CASSIUS.
Yes, every man of them; and no man
here
But honours you; and every one doth wish
You had but that opinion of yourself
Which every noble Roman bears of you.
This is Trebonius.

BRUTUS.
He is welcome hither.

CASSIUS.
This, Decius Brutus.

BRUTUS. He is welcome too.

CASSIUS.
This, Casca; this, Cinna;
And this, Metellus Cimber.

BRUTUS.
They are all welcome.
What watchful cares do interpose themselves
Betwixt your eyes and night?

CASSIUS.
Shall I entreat a word?

[BRUTUS and CASSIUS whisper.

DECIUS.
Here lies the east: doth not the day
break here?

CASCA.
No.

CINNA.
O! pardon, sir, it doth; and yon grey
lines
That fret the clouds are messengers of day.

CASCA.
You shall confess that you are both
deceiv’d.
Here, as I point my sword, the sun arises;
Which is a great way growing on the south,
Weighing the youthful season of the year.
Some two months hence up higher toward the
north
He first presents his fire; and the high east
Stands, as the Capitol, directly here.

BRUTUS.
Give me your hands all over, one by
one.

CASSIUS.
And let us swear our resolution.

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And so, in honor of the Ides of March, here’s the “moment before” the poor ignored SOOTHSAYER comes back into the picture: Act II, scene iv. The sense of foreboding grows. Portia can feel the wrongness in the air.

PORTIA
Come hither, fellow: which way hast thou been?

SOOTHSAYER
At mine own house, good lady.

PORTIA
What is’t o’clock?

SOOTHSAYER
About the ninth hour, lady.

PORTIA
Is Caesar yet gone to the Capitol?

SOOTHSAYER
Madam, not yet: I go to take my stand,
To see him pass on to the Capitol.

PORTIA
Thou hast some suit to Caesar, hast thou not?

SOOTHSAYER
That I have, lady: if it will please Caesar
To be so good to Caesar as to hear me,
I shall beseech him to befriend himself.

PORTIA
Why, know’st thou any harm’s intended towards him?

SOOTHSAYER
None that I know will be, much that I fear may chance.
Good morrow to you. Here the street is narrow:
The throng that follows Caesar at the heels,
Of senators, of praetors, common suitors,
Will crowd a feeble man almost to death:
I’ll get me to a place more void, and there
Speak to great Caesar as he comes along.

Exit

PORTIA
I must go in. Ay me, how weak a thing
The heart of woman is! O Brutus,
The heavens speed thee in thine enterprise!
Sure, the boy heard me: Brutus hath a suit
That Caesar will not grant. O, I grow faint.
Run, Lucius, and commend me to my lord;
Say I am merry: come to me again,
And bring me word what he doth say to thee.

Vincenzo Camuccini, "Morte di Cesare", 1798,

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