‘How Calmly Does The Olive Branch’ – All The World Is A Stage Project

This video is part of the ‘All the World is a Stage’ project, initiated by Wysinfo in order to encourage international cooperation through culture.

To watch other performances that are part of this project, follow this link
Wysinfo – ‘All the World is a Stage Project’ Front Page.

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
With no betrayal of despair....

Some time while light obscures the tree
The zenith of its life will be
Gone past forever
And from thence
A second history will commence

A chronicle no longer gold
A bargaining with mist and mold
And finally the broken stem
The plummeting to earth, and then

An intercourse not well designed
For beings of a golden kind
Whose native green must arch above
The earth’s obscene corrupting love

And still the ripe fruit and the branch
Observe the sky begin to blanch
Without a cry, without a prayer
With no betrayal of despair

Oh courage! Could you not as well
Select a second place to dwell
Not only in that golden tree
But in the frightened heart of me?.

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.

Olive trees in Rosh-Pina
Olive trees in Rosh-Pina

Related links

The Night of The Iguana