“To Brooklyn Bridge” is a Cinematic Poem Animated Short Film Featuring Hart Crane Proem Narrated by Tennessee Williams Directed By Suzie Hanna.
Designed, Animated and Directed by: Suzie Hanna
Sound by: Tom Simmons
Produced by: Sally Bayley
Music by: Maurice Ravel (“Bolero”)
Music Performed by: Mengelberg Concertgebouw Orchestra
“This Poetry Animation is a representation of Hart Crane’s iconic ‘Proem’ from his epic work ‘The Bridge’. Suzie Hanna animated the film using hand cut stencils imitating some graphic aspects of contemporaneous 1920s New York artists who were in Hart Crane’s coterie, such as Joseph Stella and Marsden Hartley. She also referenced Vorticism to capture vertiginous aspects of the verse. The voice of Tennessee Williams, who was an ardent admirer of Crane, is taken from a 1960 recording. Tom Simmons has built this into a resonant dramatic soundscape which interprets the materiality of the bridge, the surrounding land and waterscape and the ‘prayerful’ qualities of the Proem. He embeds sonic references to Hart Crane’s ‘shamanic process’ in which the poet played records on his Victrola, including Ravel’s ‘Bolero’, loudly and repeatedly , whilst drinking heavily and typing phrases in manic bursts. The film is part of ongoing research into representation of poetic metaphor, between Sally Bayley, Tom Simmons and Suzie Hanna: their recent article ‘Thinking Metaphorically and Allegorically: A Conversation between the fields of Poetry, Animation and Sound’ was published in Autumn 2013 in the Journal of American Studies. A further installment has been commissioned for publication in Spring 2014.”
Read by: Tennessee Williams
“The Bridge: To Brooklyn Bridge” by Hart Crane
How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest
The seagull’s wings shall dip and pivot him,
Shedding white rings of tumult, building high
Over the chained bay waters Liberty—
Then, with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes
As apparitional as sails that cross
Some page of figures to be filed away;
—Till elevators drop us from our day …
I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights
With multitudes bent toward some flashing scene
Never disclosed, but hastened to again,
Foretold to other eyes on the same screen;
And Thee, across the harbor, silver paced
As though the sun took step of thee yet left
Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,—
Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!
Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft
A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,
Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,
A jest falls from the speechless caravan.
Down Wall, from girder into street noon leaks,
A rip-tooth of the sky’s acetylene;
All afternoon the cloud flown derricks turn …
Thy cables breathe the North Atlantic still.
And obscure as that heaven of the Jews,
Thy guerdon … Accolade thou dost bestow
Of anonymity time cannot raise:
Vibrant reprieve and pardon thou dost show.
O harp and altar, of the fury fused,
(How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)
Terrific threshold of the prophet’s pledge,
Prayer of pariah, and the lover’s cry,
Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift
Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars,
Beading thy path—condense eternity:
And we have seen night lifted in thine arms.
Under thy shadow by the piers I waited
Only in darkness is thy shadow clear.
The City’s fiery parcels all undone,
Already snow submerges an iron year …
O Sleepless as the river under thee,
Vaulting the sea, the prairies’ dreaming sod,
Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend
And of the curveship lend a myth to God.