Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Astronomer's Dream (1898)

Looks like nine haikus about a dead elephant are more popular than a 1,100 word essay on a three-hour Scandinavian epic. I’m SHOCKED.

So here’s some more verse (I hope it’s not worse) than the last one. First though, you should watch the film itself, which is a mere three minutes long or so on YouTube.

Méliès’ The Astronomer’s Dream, Realized in Modified Anglo-Saxon Alliterative Verse

(To be declared in a loud voice, accompanied by small harp or ukulele)

Behold the bold               and brilliant man

whose scouring scope      the sky-fields raked:

for hours, orbs                 both old and new

his lens did locate,            light, and grow.

But slowly,                      Sleep demanded slake,

and quicker quaked         the questor’s quill

’till dim the discs              before him drew

and deskward did            his wise head drop.

Alas, Athene,                  by day abided,

now by night did              love him not;

this sovereign, sought      for sober thought.

A princess proved;          she propped him not.

Instead she paused,       while stared an imp

upon our prone and       powerless man;

a dream-time demon,    devious,

that great Athene          could've thrown with ease.

The imp slipped in,       and Imperiling Fear

the Man of Measurements’ mind now faced!

Gone, then back;         gone again his furnishings—

in blinks his bearings    borne away!

The scattered scholar’s schooling taught

that such a scene         unlikely seemed,

so fierce he thought,    and fixed his scope

to spy in space            some spiteful source.

But fierce, too, the      fouled firmament replied,

by swelling swift         its swarthy Moon,

whose large and         looming lunar mouth

soon ruled the room,  and rent the scope.

His tools thus trashed, our thinker fled,

but nowhere now      the nightmare led

but to the teeth         of the terrible Moon,

which duly did          dismember him.


Be warned, oh ye    who over-work:

The amusements of minds made too weary to wake

wage their battles with might,

though  might they be fakes.

Where to find The Astronomer’s Dream:
This film can be found on disc one of Flicker Alley’s magnificent five-disc set, George Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema (1896 – 1913).

Silent Volume has reviewed several other Méliès films (all in prose): Jeanne d'Arc (1899); A Trip to the Moon (1902); and The Impossible Voyage (1904).

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