Most of my generation lost faith in the Nobel Committee when they bestowed the Peace Prize on Henry Kissinger.
The administrators of Alfred Nobel’s legacy have received deserved and undeserved criticism ever since and long before.
I’m among those who thinks Robert Zimmerman’s Nobel Prize for Literature is not only deserved but overdue.
For those disagree, let’s run through a few samplings from Prize-winning poets past.
Consider the winner of the Nobel’s first prize for literature, Sully Prudhomme, 1901.
At a time when Leo Tolstoy was still alive, the Committee gave him the award for his poetry. His most famous poem was the following (translated from French):
The Broken Vase
A fan’s light tap
Was enough to chip
This flower vase
In which the roses
Now are dying.
No sound it made
But a hairline crack
Day after day
Crept slowly round the glass
And dropp by dropp
The water trickled out
While the vital sap
In the roses’ stems
Now no-one doubts:
“Don’t touch”, they say,
Often, too, the hand one loves
May lightly brush against the heart
And bruise it.
Slowly then across that heart
A hidden crack will spread
And love’s fair flower perish.
Nice, huh? Not quite War and Peace but nice.
Here’s Robert Zimmerman from Visions of Johanna – hardly his most famous.
Ain't it just like the night to play tricks when you're tryin' to be so quiet ?
We sit here stranded, though we're all doing our best to deny it
And Louise holds a handful of rain, tempting you to defy it
Lights flicker from the opposite loft
In this room the heat pipes just cough
The country music station plays soft
But there's nothing really nothing to turn off
Just Louise and her lover so entwined
And these visions of Johanna that conquer my mind.
In the empty lot where the ladies play blindman's bluff with the key chain
And the all-night girls they whisper of escapades out on the D-train
We can hear the night watchman click his flashlight
Ask himself if it's him or them that's really insane
Louise she's all right she's just near
She's delicate and seems like the mirror
But she just makes it all too concise and too clear
That Johanna's not here
The ghost of electricity howls in the bones of her face
Where these visions of Johanna have now taken my place.
The last couplet alone is worth a prize.
How about 1907 winner Rudyard Kipling. Probably his most famous is If:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Comparisons are odious but for thematic similarities, try this one from Mr. Zimmerman.
Anything and Everything that has Nothing to Do with the Movies
Sometimes, we go to a movie to get away from the world and sometimes we go to see what’s going on in the world. This blog will offer comments on the world, the movies and their occasional overlap.