As I flew home from another trip to London I had ten hours to think about the contents of my March column. Regretfully, I spent most of my time trying to ignore the barrage of aches and pains that plagued me because I wasn’t craving cigarettes. My only comfort was I’d been forewarned because the flight to London was excruciating. One would expect, I know I did, a harry-free flight soaking up the bliss of being rid of the noxious weed.
Now, it’s a week later and something that’s been niggling me has cropped up due to the Oscars. It’s killer lines in movies that everyone, including Presidents, toss out to bemuse or bedazzle the hoi polloi. We all know those lines:
“Make My Day.”
“Make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
“I’ll have what she’s having.”
What brought this to mind was a train trip from North London to Surrey to meet the extraordinary Sarah Nock who’s an author and whose garden hosts Arabella Nock’s magnificent bird sculpture.
It’s due to serendipity that I know Arabella which led me to Sarah. Marion and Demelza Nock were my attentive travel agents through a convoluted train maze from Palmers Green to Three Bridges which is a bus ride away from Ferry House.
Travel tip: If you need to use the loo stop in at The Snooty Fox pub across from the Three Bridges train station and behave like a polite tourist.
Sarah Nock loves poetry and can recite masses of poems and speak knowledgeably about the poet titans. As she bedazzled me with her effortless renditions of poets I thought I’d probably have known if I’d even been a student of poetry in my salad days. I was honest with her about my opinion of Wordsworth being grateful I knew who he was and could reveal I’d been to Furness Abbey which is rumoured to be the setting for his poem about daffodils. Even better I’d seen them in bloom!
Sarah touched on a multitude of poets and then asked me if I knew of Edna St. Vincent Millay. I seized the opportunity to gush enthusiastically about one of her poems I’d heard beautifully recited on CBC radio several years ago. When Sarah asked the title I admitted I didn’t know. When Sarah suggested it might be a sonnet I said it was much longer than that. When she asked what it was about I babbled on about an apple tree which didn’t ring any bells. Demelza brought a book of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poems from one of Sarah’s well stuffed bookcases. I opened it to the poem Renascence and, even though there was no reference to apples, knew it was what I’d been looking for.
“A drenched and dripping apple-tree,”
Six words out of 1409. One line out of 233 held fast even though I couldn’t recite it. One moment in time about ten years ago when I’d pulled over to the side of the road to listen acutely. Imagine my delight when I found it so easily and how thrilled I was that my memory hadn’t failed me.
That was my killer line in that poem. The one that triggered my emotional response. That poem filled me up to the point of almost bursting. Of course it didn’t resonate the same way with Sarah because she’d been immersed in poetry for decades while I was only exposed to it occasionally by chance. I don’t consider for one moment that either of us were more fortunate it’s just our lives were different. What really mattered to me is both Sarah and I love poetry.
Movies have lines that endure, as do lyrics so why not poetry? Perhaps even prose contains unforgettable turns of phrase that turn us on.
Other poets have written lines that rock me to my core. Let’s see if you recognize this one.
When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
I first heard that line, recited flamboyantly by my mother, when I was a young girl and it never fails to engage my mind to the point of being mesmerized by the very idea! If you don’t know the poem just type the first seven words into your search engine and you’ll have the answer.
I’ll boldly state that I believe I’ve written some memorable lines myself. However it’s unlikely they’ll catch on and be added to the brocade of our language because one has to be widely read, listened to or watched to ride that magic carpet. Can you imagine the delight of those screen writers who dreamt up those killer lines never knowing what longevity they’d have? Yes! Let’s not forget that, for the most part, it was writers who created those lines that the stars delivered.
Do you have some killer lines that tickle your mind anytime you read or hear them? Have you wtitten any? Haven’t we all?
Throwing false modesty out the window, here is one of my favourite lines from a poem I wrote about my mother Pearl.
“Strewn petals of pink cabbage rose.”