Sunday, 11 January 2009

Do Not Go Gentle

[Stardust, Italy, Rome, May 2008.]

My last night in Rome I finally found a bar that suited my taste. I had struggled all week to see some jazz. Each time I went to a place it was either closed or much further away than I had expected, so I went home. Stardust was also mentioned in the Lonely Planet guide as playing some jazz now and again, so I went forth. It also says that the crowd is Boho (Bohemian) and that I can vouch for. Most remarkably for me, it had women who had great spirit. I talked to several patrons. One in particular could speak good English as he had lived in England for a few years. His name was Derek. I said, "There isn't even a K in the Italian alphabet." He laughed, but I never discovered the reason for the spelling.

[Jack Russell playing with a drunk and a plastic bottle.]

Running around the bar was a Jack Russell, so I spent a while playing with him, as did a good proportion of the other drunks. I mentioned to Derek how silly it was that Italian lighters had a cartoon stuck to them explaining how to use the child-proof action. He admitted their stupidity and said that children collected the stickers (I hoped he was being ironic). Towards the end of the night, a diminutive guy with large hair stood on the bar, quietened everyone, then performed Dylan Thomas' poem "Do not go gentle into that good night" in Italian. I could hear the familiar cadences even if in a sense I couldn't understand the Italian words:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

[A recitation of Dylan Thomas in Italian. When I become leader of the free world I would institute the law that all pubs engage a patron to recite this poem at closing time.]