A poem about movies, the day after the Oscars.
by A. E. Stallings
Late at night,
One of us sometimes has said,
Watching a movie in black and white,
Of the vivid figures quick upon the screen,
"Surely by now all of them are dead"--
The yapping, wire-haired terrier, of course--
And the patient horse
Soaked in an illusion of London rain,
The Scotland Yard inspector at the scene,
The extras--faces in the crowd, the sailors;
The bungling blackmailers,
The kidnapped girl's parents, reunited again
With their one and only joy, lisping in tones antique
As that style of pouting Cupid's bow
Or those plucked eyebrows, arched to the height of chic.
Ignorant of so many things we know,
How they seem innocent, and yet they too
Possess a knowledge they cannot give,
The grainy screen a kind of sieve
That holds some things, but lets some things slip through
With the current's rush and swirl.
We wonder briefly only about the girl--
How old--seven, twelve--it isn't clear--
Perhaps she's still alive
Watching this somewhere at eight-five,
The only one who knows, though we might guess,
What the kidnapper whispers in her ear,
Or the color of her dress.
(a note: it seems the movie that Stallings is discussing might be the 1934 The Man Who Knew Too Much. If she is, then the actress who played the girl, Nova Pilbeam, is still alive, in case anyone cares. I love this poem and wish I'd written it because I have the same thoughts when I watch old movies. There's the lovely Nova below.)