Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Being in a totally besotted Charlie Chaplin mood these days, I came across the origin of the word "Chaplinesque." While the dictionaries define it as relating to the films or character of Chaplin, somehow it means more than that.

After seeing Chaplin's "The Kid," American poet Hart Crane knew he had seen a fellow poet on the screen and was inspired to write about what it means to have the soul of a poet in this world:

by Hart Crane
We make our meek adjustments,
Contented with such random consolations
As the wind deposits
In slithered and too ample pockets.
For we can still love the world, who find
A famished kitten on the step, and know
Recesses for it from the fury of the street,
Or warm torn elbow coverts.
We will sidestep, and to the final smirk
Dally the doom of that inevitable thumb
That slowly chafes its puckered index toward us,
Facing the dull squint with what innocence
And what surprise!
And yet these fine collapses are not lies
More than the pirouettes of any pliant cane;
Our obsequies are, in a way, no enterprise.
We can evade you, and all else but the heart:
What blame to us if the heart live on.
The game enforces smirks; but we have seen
The moon in lonely alleys make
A grail of laughter of an empty ash can,
And through all sound of gaiety and quest
Have heard a kitten in the wilderness.
The poet must tell truths for all society's outcasts. The poet, he of sensitive heart, will rescue one even more downtrodden. There is always  more than the cane and the swift kick in the pants. Chaplin, despite the great fame and wealth he achieved, never could shake his early years of poverty and deprivation. In his films, he never stopped remembering how society rejects the disadvantaged. With gaiety and pathos, he never forgot the common man. And he never stopped trying to rescue the kitten in the wilderness or the damsel in distress. Chaplinesque: something with a smile and, perhaps, a tear.


Anonymous said...

After reading this, "a smile and a tear." Lovely! ;)

FlickChick said...

Thank you, Val. He was, indeed, a poet.


What a lovely poem! Chaplin for sure knew how to do poetry with images, and he poet really "got" it. I loved the images you chose for the post!

Samantha said...

I just loved the picture of old Chaplin and the kitty. Poet indeed.

The Lady Eve said...

Poet does sum up the essence of Chaplin. Recently R.D. Finch posted a marvelous piece on one of his later films, probably my favorite, the dark but exquisite "Monsieur Verdoux." For my money, it was the best of his non-silent films. He was slow to leave silents but eventually mastered the medium.

ClassicBecky said...

Chick, The Kid is so heart-rending, funny, disturbing -- I can't help crying when I see it. Crane's poem had one line that really hit me: "...Contented with such random consolations as the wind deposits ..." The Little Tramp was always able to make life good from those random consolations -- it's a lesson for me and everyone else who finds life sorrowful sometimes. Wonderful post -- you are poetic too.

FlickChick said...

Oh, so glad you liked it, Le - thank you!

FlickChick said...

Samantha - I love that photo pf Chaplin. Both he and his little kitty look quite prosperous!

FlickChick said...

Lady Eve - I totally agree about Monsieur Verdoux - a masterpiece.

FlickChick said...

Becky - you are too kind.