How Calmly Does The Olive Branch – By Tennesee Williams
Performed by David Milton Jones
Full text of the poem
How calmly does the olive branch
Observe the sky begin to blanch
Without a cry, without a prayer Some time while light obscures the tree A chronicle no longer gold An intercourse not well designed And still the ripe fruit and the branch Oh courage! Could you not as well
With no betrayal of despair....
The zenith of its life will be
Gone past forever
And from thence
A second history will commence
A bargaining with mist and mold
And finally the broken stem
The plummeting to earth, and then
For beings of a golden kind
Whose native green must arch above
The earth’s obscene corrupting love
Observe the sky begin to blanch
Without a cry, without a prayer
With no betrayal of despair
Select a second place to dwell
Not only in that golden tree
But in the frightened heart of me?.
Some time while light obscures the tree
A chronicle no longer gold
An intercourse not well designed
And still the ripe fruit and the branch
Oh courage! Could you not as well
About the poem
‘How calmly does the olive branch’, is a poem within Tennessee Williams play “The Night of the Iguana”. This play, which won acclaim from the drama critics of New York, is the last among his various plays. The play takes place during the 1940s in a hotel in Costa Verde in Mexico. The plot revolves around Reverend Shannon who is haunted by scandal. The Reverend is ostracized by his church as a result of irreverent comments, and eventually finds himself in a job as a tour guide for a group of religious Christian women. He is plagued by sexual confrontations and reaches a point of near breakdown. At the end of the play an elderly poet of minor reputation known as Nonno, recites this poem before he dies.
About the author
Thomas Lanier “Tennessee” Williams (1911-1983) was an American playwright born in Columbus, Mississippi, of English, Welsh, and Huguenot ancestry. He is considered one of the most important playwrights of 20th century American drama. Tennessee Williams, writing poetry and stories, became famous mainly owing to the plays that he wrote during the 1940s and 50s. Many of his plays have been and still are produced as films. Some of them, like “A Streetcar Named Desire”, “ The Glass Menagerie”, “The night of the Iguana” and more, became classics within the American film industry. In contrast to his earlier plays that won success among the public and critics, the later plays, which were mainly associated with the theater of the absurd, failed and were played in marginal theaters outside of Broadway.
About the location
The video above was recorded in Rosh-Pina, a small town in the upper Galilee in the north of Israel. The town is located in an important junction that, in ancient periods, connected Lebanon in the north to Tiberias and the Jordan valley in the south, Damascus and the Golan Heights in the east, and linked Safed (Tzfat) in the west. Running along side the town is the Waddi of the Rosh-Pina stream with magnificent old olive trees growing along the banks. The city was created in 1882 as an agricultural village, due to the relatively fertile land around it. However, owing to it’s location and topographical virtues, there has been a shift and today it serves more as a tourist center.