Snowmaggedon, Part Four: free associating while shoveling

February 10, 2010 at 8:59 pm (Anglophilia, Film and television, Poetry, Remembrance)

Caves of ice, caves of ice…where did that come from? Oh yes – “Kubla Khan,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge: “A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!” Nothing sunny about this day, alas, although rumor has it that we might see that Blessed Orb tomorrow.

The story goes that while Coleridge was in the midst of writing this poem, he was interrupted by a man who had come from Porlock on some pedestrian errand. When Coleridge had rid himself of this intruder, he found himself unable to continue work on this poem. Thus “Kubla Khan” is usually referred to as a fragment – but what a glorious fragment it is, with its hallucinatory visions and glimpses of a mysterious unseen world.

Then I was reminded of a scene from the Inspector Morse film Twilight of the Gods. Morse, played by John Thaw, has almost completed a crossword puzzle when Lewis (Kevin Whately) interrupts him. Irritated, Morse tells Lewis that he’s “the person from Porlock.” Lewis, whose literalness was always one of his most endearing traits, replies “No, Sir, Newcastle.”

Here’s the final scene from that film. It serves as a vivid reminder of what we lost with the passing of  John Thaw:

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