An Affair to Remember

LTV Studios, Wainscot

This evening, I attended the second annual Poetry Affair in the Hamptons. This is a lovely annual event in honor of poetry month hosted by Rosalind Brenner, featuring prominent Long Island poets in a taped and later televised performance. It was a memorable night. I read several of my favorite poems, including “Still Life,” a poem honoring a person who has died but whose legacy remains.

Coincidentally, when I came home, An Affair to Remember was on television. The scene in which the characters played by Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr visit “Janou,” the grandmother of Cary Grant’s character, is one of the most touching and tender in the history of film. Just watch this clip for beautifully subtle acting by Grant, as his character falls in love with Kerr while she sings. However extraordinary Kerr and Grant are in this scene, it may be said that they were outshined by Cathleen Nesbitt as “Janou.”

The lyrics from “An Affair to remember” include these: “Our love affair, may it always be
/ A flame to burn through eternity
/ So take my hand with a fervent prayer/
 That we may live and we may share/ 
A love affair to remember.”

The song and film are about wanting to have and hold onto a timeless love, romantically and otherwise, as the love the movie shows is both the eros of Grant and Kerr’s characters, and their shared bond of love for “Janou,” the character whose love for them transcends time and space. This desire may also be found in the poem “Still Life.” When someone we love passes on, we see how love, and even life, transcends both.

Our love affair, french version (An Affair to remember, 1957)

Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr
Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr

Still Life

The still-life is an art unto itself:
how to arrange bruised fruit, flowers and vase
in complementary patterns on the shelf
where they’ll be studied. There are countless ways
to drape a sheet behind the objects, turn
the light to catch a shadow. Even though
you have passed on, there is still life. I learn
from your best teachings, watch each image grow
in depth and value. I arrange, alone,
the allegory I will paint: a leaf,
a watch, an empty glass, other things known
as relics of impermanence. Relief
between these brush strokes is a bitter bliss:
Your stilled life shook us all—your work persists.

—Annabelle Moseley
From Still Life

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