The Enduring Power of Poetry
(Photo by Robin Holland)
This week on the JOURNAL, Bill Moyers spoke with actor and author John Lithgow about his work and the enduring power of great poetry. Lithgow, best known for starring in NBC's hit show 3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN as well as a wide array of other roles on stage and screen, said:
“The magic of archaic language, I think, [is] it sort of takes us back in time. It’s the beauty of Shakespeare, it’s his turn of phrase in a language that’s 400 years old, and it’s like music. I’m an actor, I’m a performer and an entertainer. Almost everything I do in these areas is using words, and there are these three aspects to a turn of phrase: the meaning, the emotion, and the music... Shakespeare has the line “Ay, but to die, and go we know not where; to lie in cold obstruction and to rot.” That’s language of 400 years ago, but the music of that language and the emotion and the thought is just as compelling. It’s just a very different type of music – it’s like listening to Eric Satie and Bach.”
What are your favorite poems?