The poet's face in age

The theme of age – of love not in the first flush of youth – is explored extensively in the poems, and often mocked affectionately, as is the poet's remembered youth. The films open up a new dimension of this, by exposing the poet's face, reminding the viewer far more than the reader that the poet's a few years past thirty. Without the film, the poems of Imprint, for example, can be enjoyed by all ages without a thought for the age of the poet. In that film, the issue is avoided because the poet does not appear. In several other films, the issue is unavoidable; and in some it is confronted with considerable force. In no film is this more the case than 'A pair for bodies'. It is a risky undertaking to find a balance in film between undermining a poem which has nothing to do with age, and confronting themes of age, illness and indeed mortality that are an essential part of the fabric of a substantial number of the poems. It is also raised as a potential turn-off for young viewers in the section on audience above. It is an exploration that has integrity, and ageism plays its part. But ageism is not new: it is a part of the egotism of youth. We who are old were not innocent of it once. The films provoke thought in this respect – or dismissal – far more than the poems.

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