Friday, July 13, 2007

Dancing at Lughnasa


Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.

In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.

An Old Irish Folk Song

I just finished watching, “Dancing at Lughnasa” with Meryl Streep, Michael Gambon, and a host of other wonderful actors and actresses. Streep and Gambon are the ones I recognized, but others; Kathy McCormick, Sophie Thompson, Kathy Burke, Rhys Ifans and Brid Brennan were fabulous.

This is Ireland in the mid 1930’s and what a small boy remembered of his mother, his aunts, his uncle and his father from a short time one summer. I always gauge a book or a movie by how much I cry and I did cry buckets with this story. How Meryl Streep, the eldest sister fought to hold the family together and grieved so as times wore upon them and they were forced to move away from each other. All the sisters unmarried with the youngest one having a son. The boy’s father stopped by on his way to fight in Spain and renewed the love that had never died with the boy’s mother. And, how their eldest brother, Michael Gambon, a priest in Africa came home to die. This is how the times were rough, how they scrabbled a life from poverty and how through the love they had for each other clung to that and celebrated life together.

In a memorable scene towards the end of the movie the 5 sisters came together and danced with a wild and wonderful abandon totally at odds with the staid and proper behavior they generally held to. It was as if the passion they each held in their hearts could no longer be contained in just one human body each and they laughed and howled and were so very, very glad to dance and be with each other. Until the music stopped and they stood in a circle, panting with the exertion of the dance and just stood, arms limp at their sides staring at each other in disbelief and wonder that they had just come together in that dance.

I thought it was mind blowing.

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