Friday, September 5, 2008

The Earrings

The lampblack of the mirror holds
no shadow of flight. (And of yours no trace remains.)
The sponge has passed across the golden circle,
given the defenseless glimmers chase.
I searched there for your stones, the corals,
the strong power taking you;
I flee the goddess who won't be flesh,
bear my desires till they're burned in your flash.
Elytra drone outside, the insane
funeral drones on and knows two lives don't count.
Evening's soft medusas reappear
inside the frame. Your stamp will come
from below: where pale, contorted
hands affix the corals to your ears.

The Earrings
Eugenio Montale, Collected Poems 1920-1954
translated by Jonathan Galassi

Many of you were interested in more of Montale's poetry, so I chose this particular piece that brings to mind Graham Greene's novel, The End of the Affair, made into two films, the latest in 1999, starring Julianne Moore and Ralph Fiennes. As usual, the book is better than the movie, but I do love this wonderful, dark, wet, foggy, romantic film set in WWII England. Montale's poem brought to mind this film, because Moore, in the role of Sarah Miles, wears a lovely pair of vintage coral earrings in several scenes, before her character meets an untimely death. I couldn't find a good photo of her wearing the coral earrings, but her wardrobe, hair and makeup in this film are exquisite!

elytra or wings of a maybug


  1. Julianne Moore looks fabulous in this photo - she has that special classic beauty, perfect when cast in WW2 era movies. I have seen this movie but don't recall much of it - another to put in my Netflix queue.

    Hope you're now up to concocting kitchen delicacies again - and just getting on with life following your nasty 'bug'.

  2. Ooh! I see the sychronicity... earrings and quote. Well... we are both Librans, therefore romantics at heart and - I daresay - love beautiful things.

    That was a wonderful film and Julianne Moore is so good in it.

  3. I read The End of the Affair for the first time this past winter and found it so interesting. I've suggested it to my book club, but recently everyone has preferred more "contemporary" reads. Sigh.

    The poem is lovely and you're right, it does remind one of the movie.

    I hope you're feeling better!

  4. Love the poem. Elytron-Maybugs now I have never seen them. Where are they found? Great post as usual Willow.

  5. Oh, the power of poetry!
    Isn't it amazing,
    the images it can project in one's soul? I hadn't thought of the connection, but now that you mentioned it, I agree!

    I love Julianne Moore,
    and I loved the movie.
    I remember that the movie and the book do not have the same ending, and that I liked the movie's version quite a lot.

    The poem you selected immediately brought to mind another one by Montale, "Vento sulla Mezzaluna,"
    here's the translation:


    The great bridge didn't take me to you.
    At one command, I would have come even if it meant
    sailing the sewers. But my strength,
    like the last light on the veranda windows,
    was already fading fast.

    The man preaching on the Crescent
    asked me. "Where is God?" I knew,
    and told him. He shook his head. He disappeared
    in the great whirlwind that snatched houses and men
    and hurled them up, up, to the pitch-black sky.

  6. i'm so glad you're feeling better.

    and i love the free-association-ness of this post. from amber to amber, though in this case, coral, i guess.

    funny. i have no memory of having seen this movie, but when you mentioned it, i remembered the costumes. those colors carried the whole movie.

    and thank you for the poem, though i think the poetry is the whole post.

  7. Is that the WWII movie where Errol Flynn, while stationed in London, defuses a German bomb dropped during the night in a church. One night while on leave he falls for a Red Cross nurse. The next morning he's taken by submarine to Holland. Once there, he kills lots of Nazis... then returns to England only to find is love interest has been transferred to an unknown location. Feeling dejected he volunteers for a suicide mission and survives - barely. While re-cooperating after the amputation of his leg, he chance meets his love, the nurse, at the hospital. The end.

    Probably not.

  8. nice ... hope you are feeling better


  9. That's beautiful! I have to admit, I was sort of disappointed in that movie, but Ralph F and Julianne were good,and the photo you selected here creates just the right mood for that poem here. Wonderful!

  10. ps
    Ooooh, the latest banner is exquisite!

  11. Love Julianne Moore, LOVE Ralph Fiennes and loved the movie!

  12. I never understood the purpose of the hat veil, if that's what it's called. It hides nothing and sort of just sits there. However, I think it's a lovely affectation.

  13. Stephen, okay, I did a little more research on elytra and they are actually the wings of beetles. In this poem it must refer to cicadas or crickets' elytra droning.

    Merisi, I love this poem, too!! It has an "Oz" type ending, doesn't it? Oh, thanks for sharing this one. I haven't seen it yet in my new book. I just picked up a copy of Giuseppe Ungaretti's poems from the library and I'm looking forward to spending some time with it this weekend.

    Bill, okay, so I like these kind of movies. I couldn't keep a straight face, reading your little plot and looking at your profile picture at the same time.

    David, there is absolutely no purpose at all for the hat veil. It is purely an object of beauty and my humble opinion, of course. Kind of like spats or a snood. :)

  14. Such a beautiful film, but so sad! The poem is just gorgeous.

  15. Hmmm... I slightly disagree. I thought that the second film version did the book the justice it deserved. I like Ralph Fiennes as an actor a lot and Julianne Moore is one of my all-time favourites. And mary, you're right, she has a very special type of beauty, an aura, I would say.

    The poem is beautiful and I can see that Latin cadence and richness throughout the text. The references, the extravagant (in a positive sense) use of certain words and images. All in all, a great post.

    Thanks a lot for popping by a while ago. It meant a lot to me because I did not know if non-Cubans would be able to grasp the kernel of my post and what this music meant to my generation (and the one before mine). Keep up the good work.

    Greetings from London.

  16. A lot of estrogen a faithful blogger friend to Willow Manor...I have endured!!!!! Have a great weekend my friend.

  17. Srider, with a house full of females, you should be used to it by now. And besides, after you admitted one of your favorite songs to be the theme to "Anne of Green Gables" you can't complain! :D

  18. Pappy, I've never seen you at a loss for words. Ever.

  19. I had to laugh at your previous post about the batcave.......our have been launched for some years now and I miss them.
    We now only have to cater to ourselves which is a great luxury.
    Yes, The End of the Affair was stunningly English. I enjoyed both the book and the movie.
    I life Ralph Fiennes too.

  20. WOW! "Louis" is speechless.

    (Editor to "Louis:" Well, THAT'S a first!

    "Louis" to Editor: Why don't you take a long walk off a short plank over the shark tank? )

  21. I just love visiting your eclectic yet classic and elegant blog.


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)