Interesting theme proposed by Frank O'Shea - in Frank's words: How about a series on poems featured in movies. You already have "Code Poem for the French Resistance" [Poem #197]from the film "Carve Her Name With Pride". And "O Captain, My Captain!"[Poem #157] from "Dead Poets Society". And I seem to recall a film in which "Invictus"[Poem #221] was central - a teacher trying to get a student to tease out the meaning; what was the film? Here is another one, the first verse of which is read aloud from the old book of verse in the cave in one of the meetings of the Dead Poets Society. Whenever I recite it, I have to warn listeners not to make up their politically correct and sensitive minds until I have finished.
(Poem #1165) The Ballad Of William Bloat
In a mean abode on the Shankill Road Lived a man named William Bloat; And he had a wife, the curse of his life, Who always got his goat. 'Til one day at dawn, with her nightdress on He slit her pretty throat. With a razor gash he settled her hash Oh never was crime so quick But the steady drip on the pillowslip Of her lifeblood made him sick. And the pool of gore on the bedroom floor Grew clotted and cold and thick. Now he was right glad he had done as he had As his wife lay there so still But a sudden awe of the mighty law Filled his heart with an icy chill. So to finish the fun so well begun He resolved himself to kill. He took the sheet from his wife's cold feet And twisted it into a rope And he hanged himself from the pantry shelf, 'Twas an easy end, let's hope. In the face of death with his latest breath He said "to hell with the Pope." Now the strangest turn in this whole concern Is only just beginning. He went to Hell, but his wife got well And is still alive and sinning. For the razor blade was Dublin made But the sheet was Belfast linen.
The poem is variously attributed to that prolific creator of such verses, Anon. But I have also seen the name Raymond Calvert as author. I would be happy to know something about him. [I found several attributions to Calvert, so I've gone ahead and followed suit - martin] The Shankill Road is the centre of militant Protestantism (more accurately, anti-papistry) in Belfast and is rarely out of the news when it comes to "loyalist" paramilitary activity. I have also seen the last two lines written as For the razor blade was German made But the sheet was English linen. Presumably a leftover from one of the World Wars and possibly when it first appeared. Frank O'Shea [Martin adds] Curiously enough, apart from "Funeral Blues"[Poem #256], I can't think of any memorable poetry featured in a movie (Jackson's first "Lord of the Rings" movie disappointed me in that respect - I expected at least one poem as a voiceover.) Maybe I just don't watch enough of the right sort of movie. I'm looking forward to seeing what people come up with. (Afterthought: no, I lied - there was the very memorable, and heartily recommended, "Il Postino")