11 December 2011

One by one we are all becoming shades...

People forget that ghost stories were once a big part of the Christmas season. Not surprising when you think of long nights spent by the fire. But it's not just the spooky kind of ghost I'm talking about. There's just something about the season that brings up memories of our past and with them a ghost or two. "That’s because in your mind Christmas isn’t just a day or a celebration -- it’s every remembered Christmas too, including all the missing faces who were at your table once along with the bright new faces who gather there now, all rolled into one." (Source - IrishCentral.com)

Have you ever seen The Dead? I'm not talking a zombie flick, I'm talking about John Huston's version (his last film) of the short story by James Joyce. The story is set around the turn of the 19th C and takes place at a Christmas party in Dublin, Ireland. During the evening's festivities Gretta, played by Angelica Huston, hears a song that transports her...somewhere. Once home she finally confesses to her husband, Gabriel (Donal McCann) the reason for her melancholy...she is haunted by the death of her first suitor, Michael Furey. He died after spending the night in the rain waiting to get one last glimpse of her before she left Galway for a convent in Dublin. After she's cried herself to sleep, her husband Gabriel, gazes out the window at the falling snow. His thoughts, as written by Joyce, lead to one of the most beautiful (and one of the most celebrated) paragraphs ever penned:

One of the many beautiful images from the final passage of The Dead
A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead. 

Read The Dead in its entirety here or watch selections on You Tube.

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