84 Charing Cross Road is a delightful movie about the bonding power of a shared passion, in this case for good literature. Anthony Hopkins was quietly perfect in his small role. And though I love Ann Bancroft I felt she was trying a bit too hard to be unsophisticated. I think she is just too cultured for that.
The film was set mostly in the 1950’s and a bit in the 60’s and for the first time that I can recall I felt a strong yearning for the simple innocence and respectability of that era. I cried during a couple of the more passionate odes to books and literature. And also when they put their glass milk bottles out on the front stoop in metal crates to be exchanged for fresh ones by the early morning milk man. I teared up at the cardigan sweaters, steeping of lose leaf tea in a porcelain pot, fresh baked bread on the dinner table waiting to be sliced and slathered with real butter from a little glass bowl. Most of all I was weeping for the long evening hours spent with the company of books instead of the tele.
One of the things I like best about living at the ranch is the near impossibility of TV, therefore I read. In the movie, Hopkins read the William Butler Yeats poem, HE WISHES FOR THE CLOTHS OF HEAVEN that I must share. It isn’t quite the same reading it yourself, though do read it aloud, but I can’t get Sir Anthony to read if for you. Rent the movie to hear it.
HE WISHES FOR THE CLOTHS OF HEAVEN
HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.