Poem of the Week

A Note on War Poetry

T.S. Elliot
Not the expression of collective emotion
Imperfectly reflected in the daily papers.
Where is the point at which the merely individual
Explosion breaks
In the path of an action merely typical
To create the universal, originate a symbol
Out of the impact? This is a meeting
On which we attend
Of forces beyond control by experiment—
Of Nature and the Spirit. Mostly the individual
Experience is too large, or too small. Our emotions
Are only ‘incidents’
In the effort to keep day and night together.
It seems just possible that a poem might happen
To a very young man: but a poem is not—
That is a life.
War is not a life: it is a situation;
One which may neither be ignored nor accepted,
A problem to be met with ambush and stratagem,
Enveloped or scattered.
The enduring is not a substitute for the transient,
Neither one for the other. But the abstract conception
Of private experience at its greatest intensity
Becoming universal, which we call ‘poetry’,
May be affirmed in verse.

Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen‘s Midnight in Paris charmed me. In Midnight in Paris, Gil (Owen Wilson) yearns for a bye gone era surely life would be better in the 1920s in Paris, if possible. His annoyingly practical fiancee Inez thinks Gil”s nuts. In her view, there’s nothing better than playing it safe, making money and keeping up with the Joneses. These two have nothing in common. She seems like she’s never read a book that wasn’t required reading. We know he’ll be rid of her by the time the credits roll.

Gil’s the Woody Allen character clearly and he falls into a delightful wormhole of sorts. As he strolls around Paris late at night a 1920s taxi picks him up at midnight and takes him to a party where he meets Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald. This leads him to meeting more writers and artists of the Moveable Feast era. Gil’s in heaven.

Continuing these nightly strolls, wears away the thin fabric that keeps his ho hum engagement going. Also, self-described hack Gil gets the gumption to commit to his novel with the encouragement of Gertrude Stein. We see this way before Gil does. There’s nothing we haven’t seen as far as time travel or Woody Allen relationships go, but with the beauty of Paris and Allen’s dialog, we’re happy to go along for the ride. Who wouldn’t like a nice meander around such a romantic city?

N.B. In Allen’s Paris there are no rude waiters or any annoying French people. Just friendly charmers, who seem to like Americans. Tres bien, n’est pas?