"To be an actor, I think, must be dreadful. He is the most vulnerable of artists. When he offers his skill to the public judgment, he offers himself entire, and no detail of his appearance is exempt from the general scrutiny. Hid stride, his voice, the very shape of his nose may be called into question by the critical spectator. No other artist is similarly exposed. No lady poet, for instance, need fear that her romantic sonnets will be condemned merely because she happens to be a trifle fat, or a novelist worry lest his narrative of barracks life be rejected on the ground that his receding chin and shrill little laugh do not harmonize with his use of manly obscenities. Yet the actor, be ever so talented, is commonly expected to meet physical requirements that are infinitely more exacting than these. And since he is himself the medium through which he expresses his art, any critical attack on his performance is, in a sense, an attack upon his person."
I am nearing the end of Tomalin's Thomas Hardy. She mentions Hardy's lovely lyric "When I set out for Lyonnesse." When I saw the title my memory immediately dug up the next line "With magic in my eyes." Now, I think the only time I read that poem was in an Edwardian literature class at Wisconsin back around 1969, so I surprised myself by remembering that second line.
I decided to reread it, and dug it up on the internet, easy to do. I disappointed myself when the second line was not as I remembered: "When I set out for Lyonnesse,
A hundred miles away" was the actual sequence.
Then I read the last stanza. Guess what? I am not totally gaga, only partially gaga. I was just two stanzas from being right.
Praise God for small mercies.
Zoka, coffee, the last pages of Thomas Hardy.
Charlton Heston is dead at 84. He married his wife in 1944, the year I was born. We are now allowed to take his guns away, out of his cold, dead hands.
Thomas Hardy's second wife Florence was forty years younger than he was. It gives one pause. And I had better stay paused.