Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Incandescence

Incandescence
is hard to hold,
but harder
to hold inside.

Mary Pickford tried to destroy all her old films--
the fragile, flammable celluloid
her incandescence lived in.
A new generation found the silents simple and sentimental,
and their "talkies" stars spoke
in a clipped, faux-English way
while portraying canny, glib sophisticates.

Mary didn't want to be made fun of.
Honest emotion had gone out of style,
much as it has today.

Still, everybody wants to be made to feel
that their loves, hopes and desires,
their pain and struggles
mean something noble, something beautifully human.
Everybody would like to be young, beautiful, and in love,
and everybody would like to kick the landlord in the butt.

As the lady said,
silent stars didn't have words, but they had faces.
Florence La Badie can forever lean over a balcony,
gone for 90 years,
smiling for a lover dead for decades,
and she will always be gorgeous, and alive, and we will want to be her.

See the little dog running down the dirt road
after the Gish sisters.
We hope they turn around.
We hope he catches up,
because we all know what it's like to be found
or left behind.

"They're so blessed, so lucky,"
we say of movie stars,
and we wonder why they flicker,
though it isn't such a mystery.
 
Incandescence 
is hard to hold,
but harder
to hold inside.
________

for Kerry's silent movie challenge at Real Toads.






21 comments:

Sioux said...

I love that you ended right where you began...

grapeling said...

I had no idea where to take this challenge. You have done a masterful job. And that open/close is brilliant ~

ccchampagne said...

Wow! Just... Wow! So much longing and wisdom! And put so beautifully. And, like everyone else, I'm very much in love with the beginning and repeat end.

TexWisGirl said...

wow.

Kerry O'Connor said...

"we all know what it's like to be found
or left behind" ... Such lovely resonant words, FB. What you say in this piece is so true - these early stars have an incandescence that modern stars with all the CGI in the world cannot quite achieve.

Your reference to Mary Pickford reminds me of one of my favourite songs by Katie Melua, in which she says: "Mary Pickford used to eat roses, thought they made her beautiful and they did..."

Sumana Roy said...

immortal silent film world...
wonderfully expressed

Susan said...

Thank you, thank you, for Mary and what was captured/taken from them--the incandescence. It flickers. I love how your poem clarifies the mystery.

hedgewitch said...

This is a memorial, a celebration and a lament all at once. These women(and men) lived themselves as art, a traditional thing for actors, but not much done any more--you show us what that meant, how we need it and search for it, something that embodies/ennobles our own losses,loves and lives and makes them significant. That video compilation is just heart-rending, and exquisite as art is meant to be, in just the faces and expressions. I knew you would just own this challenge, Shay. Just beautiful.

Susie Clevenger said...

So beautiful...I think a bit of us always loops on silent film...I like how you began and ended it with the same words...in a sense I feel the whole poem could be about each of us. We may have never graced a silver screen, but we hope those moment of beauty will somehow live long after we are gone...sorry to go on...your poem sparked so much in me.

Cloudia said...

This is the loveliest lesson in Film and in Life I can remember is quite some time. Truly amazing! Should be published by TCM in their newsletter, and you invited on a Golden Age Movie Goddesses Tour!
Do send this about, Dear-




Sincere ALOHA from Honolulu
ComfortSpiral

=^..^= <3

HermanTurnip said...

Incandescence. Like the bulb that lights up film on the big screen. Like a star shining in her biggest role. Like the heat generated from flammable nitrate stock. Awesomely done!

Margaret said...

Love their drama, the way they wore fashion, most had AMAZING eyes - Love the poem, love the clip … I adore Greta Garbo - but she didn't die young.

I'm going to look for these:

Even though Florence LaBadie is forgotten today, many of her Thanhouser shorts such as “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (1912), “Petticoat Camp” (1912) and “The Evidence of the Film” (1913) are available on dvd. Florence’s last film, the sixty minute “The Man Without a Country” (1917) is also available on dvd.

Hannah said...

Love the cyclical open/close and this:

"Honest emotion had gone out of style,
much as it has today."

Interesting statement.

Excellent response to the challenge, Shay.

:)

Lydia said...

This is positively inspired, Shay. I knew something special awaited me when the GIF of the actress was actually moving in my bloglist! That's a first. But then you are a trailblazer in so many ways it is hard to count. I bow to you (albeit not from a wisteria-wrapped balcony)!

K9friend said...

That's beautiful, Shay. I especially love the final verse.

Pat
Critter Alley

Ella said...

Brilliant! I'm enchanted with you poem-this one is a Golden Star!

Mama Zen said...

I love this. When I saw this prompt, I knew it had your name all over it.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

LOVE this, from the wonderful film clip to the closing lines.

G-Man said...

I went to school with Mary Pickford, she was one grade behind me!

Other Mary said...

Nice one Shay. Incandescence is the perfect word to start and end.

Sara said...

My favorite line in this one is:

"As the lady said,
silent stars didn't have words, but they had faces."

That is so true and they had to use them to get the message across, didn't they.

I could stare at that opening picture forever. It conjures up so many different emotions, watching her face as she leans on balcony.

Like others said the opening and closing verses were perfect:~)