Sunday, 28 October 2012

The Poem M Reads in Skyfall: A Quote From Tennyson's Ulysses

Daniel Craig in Skyfall, the most recent Bond film that quotes Tennyson's Ulysses. Image from guardian.co.uk

I went to go and see the new Bond film last night, and I must say that I enjoyed it. There was plenty of action, humour, and "Britishness" - everything that a Bond film needs, really. At one point M quoted Tennyson, a moment which was always going to be a winner with me. You can watch the clip on Youtube here.

Some may say that this addition was excessively melancholy and staged, but I love intertextuality in films (the Dickens A Tale of Two Cities reference got me through The Dark Knight Rises, for instance). 

Below is the passage that was quoted. It's taken from Tennyson's Ulysses, which the poet famously claimed described his own "need of going forward and braving the struggle of life" after his friend Hallam's death. It's a very fitting choice for the circumstances in the film, and as Poet Laureate during much of Queen Victoria's reign, he's a very patriotic choice.

The Tennyson quote read by M goes...


Tho' much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.


I hope you gain some personal meaning from the poem, as I have. The last two lines of the above passage are on a post-it next to my desk, for reference when I'm having a bad day and not feeling particularly strong. It makes me realise that although the past has often hurt me, it doesn't mean that I'm weak-willed or possessed by my memories.

If you want to read the whole poem online, click here.


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13 comments:

Brian Joseph said...

One is my guilty pleasures in life are Bond films even when they are on the superficial side. Evan better when they are not on the superficial side. I have heard great things about this one and cannot wait to see it!

Lucy said...

I hope you see it soon and enjoy it! I love Bond films too, despite all the materialism.

Santosh MP said...

Thanks for putting this up! It's my favourite moment in the film. Set my pulse racing!

Lucy said...

It's no problem - thank you for the comment! I also loved this moment in the film, and congratulate the clever script writer who chose the passage.

Samuel Vazquez said...

I came across your page while googling 'tennyson poem quoted in skyfall' and I must say your site is great!

I've always been a fan of Bond films and British culture; I'm also becoming a fan of your site, too.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this brilliant, heartfelt moment in the movie! Wish you a 2013 filled with Health, Happiness and Joy!

Best Regards from Mexico City,
Sam.

Lucy said...

Samuel - thank you for the comment!

I hope you had a very enjoyable New Year's Eve, and I wish you all the best for 2013.

All the best,

Lucy

Anonymous said...

Will you translate this passage to Spanish.

tolstoytherapy said...

If you mean the Tennyson section, I believe it to be something like this:

"Y si bien ahora no tenemos esa fuerza que en los viejos tiempos movía cielo y tierra, eso que somos, somos. Un temperamento equivalente de corazones heroicos, hecho débil por el tiempo y el destino, pero fuerte en voluntad. Para luchar, para buscar, para encontrar y no para producir."



All the best :)

tolstoytherapy said...

Samuel - thank you for the comment!

I hope you had a very enjoyable New Year's Eve, and I wish you all the best for 2013.

All the best,

Lucy

tolstoytherapy said...

It's no problem - thank you for the comment! I also loved this moment in the film, and congratulate the clever script writer who chose the passage.

tolstoytherapy said...

I hope you see it soon and enjoy it! I love Bond films too, despite all the materialism.

stuart said...

What a beautiful poem, and so entirely fitting to the plight of the characters in the film.

tolstoytherapy said...

Thank you - I agree!