Friday, August 14, 2009

Annabelle Serpentine Dance (1895)

In the flickers of this bygone moment
Annabelle fair undulates her serpent’s dance;
and I, by but another press of Play
do toy with her, and new joy in her sway.

But oh, what’s ‘fifty feet’ of film today—
but fifteen seconds? Brutal brevity,
dear Belle, when you’re the one upon the stage,
or through the scope; though your looks mute your age.

My Annabelle, ’gainst your backing of black:
your alabaster face and arms glow strong, and
’gainst their white, your flaming, styled curls
pulse hot, and top your timeless act’s unfurling.

By steps precisely stepped a century past,
with flowing robes old generations sewed,
your grace evokes the twist and torque of Snake;
but by your pace a bright-lit beast it’s made.

Sweet-gentle, slight-built Annabelle, your sleeves
the spectrum-wide traverse, from orange-ish bursts,
to white, then from your shoes, quick-rising blue;
dead painters’ dabs evoke five colours true.

Another turn, and sweep, and cocky step;
another silken, rippling column rolls; then,
arms held high you start your dance’s end,
you prancing Angel; with a prideful Sun in your wake.

Where to find Annabelle Serpentine Dance:
The hand-tinted Annabelle Serpentine Dance is one of many brief, 19th century films found Disc One of Kino International’s must-have, four-disc set, Edison: The Invention of the Movies. The film is preceded by a short commentary from several film scholars. Look for it here. A grainier version of this serpentine dance (as well as many others like it) can also be downloaded from YouTube.

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