Reality Is Such A Bore - Poem by gershon hepner
Reality is such a bore:
far better to keep lips so stiff
that you can shun the painful core
of hearts as heavy as Rosetta
stone, deciphering each letter
no better than a hieroglyph.
What bliss it is to be alive,
concealing from oneself one’s pain,
and with an effort to survive
as though pain really didn’t matter.
Stiff lips make sure the heart won’t shatter,
for, sealed, they never can complain.
Anthony Lane writes about David Lean, born on March 25,1908 (“Master and Commander, ” New Yorker, March 31,2008) . He spent his childhood in Croydon, south of London, a town Lane describes as “about as unmystical a town as you can find in the British Isles: :
No part of the human anatomy has taken more loose mockery, since the Second World War, than the stiff upper lip of the British. But what is the cause of the stiffness: the pressure of things left unsaid, or of tears not permitted to fall? Think of “Brief Encounter, ” which Lean directed in the final year of the war. Its main event is what never happens: Laura (Celia Johnson) , a married woman, does not have an affair with Alec (Trevor Howard) , a married man, despite their being ardently in love. The film has been a favorite, almost a fetish, among British audiences ever since. This year, on Valentine’s Day, it was screened outside the National Theatre, in London, so that young lovers could sit in the cold, huddle together, and learn just how incredibly miserable the business of love can be. What other country would subscribe to this? The saga of thwartings is played out in the pleasure domes of suburbia: railway stations, luncheon tables, and boating lakes. For Lean, the humdrum was drenched in emotion; he himself, as a teen-ager, used to take the train up to London to see a film, then hang around in the refreshment room at Victoria Station, smoking and drinking coffee, spinning out the time so that he did not have to head home and find his unhappy mother still awake. I agree with Gene Phillips, in “Beyond the Epic: The Life and Films of David Lean” (2006) , when he suggests that these lingerings spilled into “Brief Encounter.” The couple first meet at a station and, unbearably, part there for the last time, with Alec’s hand resting briefly on Laura’s shoulder in the refreshment room. They have measured out their love in coffee spoons.
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