Nostalgia is a mixture of longing and contentment. The older I get, the more inclined I am to withhold remorse from those who miss their own fleeting moments of feeling alive. These two works encapsulate the surrender to fading eternal happiness.
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why (Sonnet XLIII) by Edna St. Vincent Millay
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.
George’s last lines in Blow:
So in the end, was it worth it? Jesus Christ. How irreparably changed my life has become. It’s always the last day of summer and I’ve been left out in the cold with no door to get back in. I’ll grant you I’ve had more than my share of poignant moments. Life passes most people by while they’re making grand plans for it. Throughout my lifetime, I’ve left pieces of my heart here and there. And now, there’s almost not enough to stay alive. But I force a smile, knowing that my ambition far exceeded my talent. There are no more white horses or pretty ladies at my door.
I’ve always been impressed with the literary quality of the movie Blow. At a pivotal time in my life, the summer before my final year of high school, the words reverberated in rippling effects on the way I viewed my teenage angst. I remember changing my AIM away message to George Jung’s words after his daughter was born and he subsequently ODed on coke in the emergency room: “It was the greatest feeling I ever had. Followed abruptly by the worst feeling I ever had.” These words seemed to adequately describe my remorse for lying to my parents about underage drinking with my friends–definitely not a parallel experience, but to me it fit emotionally. In the upcoming year, I would read another work that similarly grabbed by attention, Edna St. Vincent Millay’s classic and suggestive poem “What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why (Sonnet XLIII).” Until recently, I hadn’t discovered the similarities between the poem and the closing of the film that began my larger considerations of the human experience.
Though Blow is a heartbreaking film, I am giddy and wide-eyed every time I watch it. Emotion fuels the words written within the introspective reflections of these sad individuals. In both cases, the speaker is shows a content feeling of melancholy when reflecting on his and her respective lives. Their lives grew cold as the summers of their youth faded. Depending on life philosophies, many people would pity these speakers. Something about the way they look back on their lives with a gleam of pride and nostalgia, I can’t console the part of me that applauds the fullness of their fleeting victories and conquests.