My husband and I have finally made our way to season six, the final season, of The Sopranos. Today’s Poetry Friday entry is inspired by a poem one of the characters on the show reads to another character in one of the early episodes of this season, which we watched just the other night. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone (though I know we’re slow in getting to the show and the rest of the country has seen it, I’m sure), so I won’t name names, but it may or may not have been during an existential crisis of sorts that one of the characters was having. In fact, this character was experiencing his own visions of life after death when the poem was being read.
Now, I am convinced that I think about life after death more than a person should (not in a morbid way, but in an enormously curious way) and that I’m, likely, terribly abnormal in this regard (as in, a total weirdo). But to me, it’s Life’s Greatest Mystery, and I think one reason I don’t mind aging at all in this wild life is that, each day, I’m one step closer to finding out the big answer. To say I claim to have no answers on the matter is a big ‘ol understatement, but I hope the atheists are wrong and that, in the words of Peter Pan, to die will be an awfully big adventure. All of that is to say that, well…you give me a book or a movie or a whatever that deals with the issue in an intelligent way, and I’m so hooked. This is one reason the poem really intrigued me. The character only reads the first two lines of the poem before the camera cuts away (to the other character’s ongoing journey through what you figure out is his own afterlife — not that he necessarily stays there, mind you), but my interest was piqued nonethless. (And the first show of this season opens with William Burroughs’ spoken word recording, Seven Souls, which was OH MY a TERRIFICALLY captivating way to open a season, but that’s a Poetry Friday entry for another day.)
Jacques Prévert—who wrote this poem, who is pictured here, who was born at the turn of the last century, and who is new to me—was a French poet and screenwriter. Evidently, he was an active participant in the Surrealist movement and also often wrote of sentimental love, even creating poems that were eventually set to music by the likes of not only many French vocalists, but also folks like Joan Baez.