12/04/2008

Hollywood and Sarah Bernhardt

It is not easy reading a poem about Sarah Bernhardt with chatty Hood College st udents, frenetic AA Meeting drop ins, and hissing expresso machines blaring in the background at Daniel Armstrong's Dreamer's Poetry Series at the Freder ic Coffee Co. ...but I tried.


With No Apologies


"Legend remains victorious in spite of history." Sarah Bernhardt


After Paris, London and New York

In a life lived on stage with real drama,

Here I am among the Hollywood philistines

With their youth and money and brashness

And lines that can be said and re-said

To a forgiving camera; the theatre does not forgive.

I knew my lines and made them mine,

There was no one holding a cue card for me,

I stood before the audience and saw their faces,

All of them, and how they reacted to what I said

In plain sight, not like these Hollywood charlatans,

With their retakes and magical camera tricks

To hide every verbal and physical blemish.

That wily Marcel Proust created the actress La Berma

In his novel In Search of Time inspired by me.

Puccini’s Tosca was written for me.

I sat for famous painters and painted and sculpted myself.

During the Great War I performed for the troops

At the front lines and they gave me the Legion of Honor.

Illegitimate child of a courtesan…what did they know?

I owe Hollywood nothing…it was my role in Queen Elizabeth

That allowed Adolph Zukor to eventually found Paramount.

Here’s one for all the Hollywood hopefuls:

I have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

They seek fame; I sought the life-force behind words,

Words that create history..I was not acting…I was creation.


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