Skip to main content

The Seventh Seal (a poem)

The best thing about Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey – if you haven’t yet seen it - comes when our eponymous heroes encounter Death personified - white face, black robes: exactly what we’ve come to expect the Grim Reaper to look like.

Bill S. Preston Esquire and Ted Theodore Logan (I didn't even have to look their names up!) aren't entirely happy about this and convince Death to a game of chess. If Death wins, the pair will be whisked away on a train bound for the other side. If The Wild Stallions win, they get to keep their lives.

The pair goes on to lose their game, but announce that it should be best of three, and as such other games are played in deciding their fate. When they lose the majority of those games, they convince Death that it should be best of five, and so on and so forth.

Among other things, the Grim Reaper plays Battleships, Clue, Electric Football and Twister. I can’t remember the outcome, but the Bill and Ted survived, which either means they eventually won the majority of games or cheated through revealing some sort of loophole in their agreement with Death.

Bill and Ted’s Games with Death is a direct homage to The Seventh Seal, a Swedish film by Ingmar Bergman, in which a knight finds himself on a beach during the crusades. He encounters Death, who agrees to let a game of chess decide the knight’s fate.

The scene in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey was their homage to Bergman’s 1957 Magnum Opus, and the following is my own.

The Seventh Seal

You stroll from battle,

As if steel would split,

And shrivel on impact.

And though wind - like warmed hands,

Dipped in liquid sand,

And knowing not of conflict -

May calm short of a cure,

You still walk to where the tide,

Pauses, swells, retreats,

Like a regular plaster,

But as you beam a muddied smile,

To an outside sea edge,

A presence is felt,

And know before turning,

From each brittle hair on your neck,

That mere breeze cannot move him.

Him: Chalk-White, shape-bereft,

A crude blackboard fashion.

That hides a rough wooden rubber,

Intended for flight, to be thrown,

And caught with a dropping blow.

So with a soul-stiffening sound,

He picks away at a heart-strung melody,

And exposes it for the meat that it is.

You are right

Not to beg prostrate

To scrabble at his feet

To push pride out

on a floating grave

To knead ignoring sands.

You glimpse the boarded ivory,

And your proposal,

Is accepted.

Chess-playing knight and friend,

Know this: You will not win.

A gallant death is no posthumous sin.


Popular posts from this blog

An Expert Analysis of Michael Fassbender's Running Style From the Film 'Shame'

Tom Wiggins: What are your first impressions of Michael Fassbender/Brandon's running style? Paul Whittaker: He's running nice, smooth and relaxed. He seems like he has a good amount of fitness and he is running well within himself in terms of pace.   TW: What improvements could he make to his running style? PW: The main improvement I'd make is his foot plant.  He lands heel first and this causes a 'breaking' effect when travelling forwards.  If he landed on his mid-foot/forefoot, this would be a much better for impact stress and propulsion going forward into the next running stride. TW: Regarding his speed, how many minutes per mile is he running? PW: I would say he is running approx 7-7.30 minutes per mile. TW:  What do you make of his stride lengths?  Is he overstriding/understriding? PW: The actor is definitely overstriding in this clip.  It would help if his feet landed underneath and below his centre of gravity. TW: What's his posture like? PW: A slight forward le…

A Scene From "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia' by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Roughly halfway through Nuri Bilge Ceylan's 'Once Upon a Time in Anatolia', after a long night in search of a body through remote Turkish hillsides, a weary parade of officials and the accused stop for sustenance.  Tiredness and confusion has muddled the mind of the suspect over the whereabouts of the body.  The search party, consisting of a police commissioner, doctor, prosecutor and driver, are all past the point of tiredness.  They've all written the night off and have resigned themselves to the fact that they're unlikely to return to town with either a confession or the missing body.  In the early hours of the morning, the  three-car parade stop for a break in a village and gather in the darkness of the local mayor's home.  All the men are physically and emotionally spent.  Even in the darkness, the stresses and strains of their working and personal lives are discernable through the shadows thrown on each of their faces.  Cracks are showing that may never g…

The Babalú Coffee House & Graffiti in Central Reykjavik

A month or two after getting back from last year's trip to Iceland, I noticed on my analytics page that my blog had attracted a massive seven visitors who were based in Iceland. 'That's strange.' I thought. 'I haven't even mentioned, let alone blogged about Iceland yet. Why am I attracting visitors?' It was at this point that I recalled scrawling my blog address on the wall of a Reykjavik coffee shop. Don't worry, readers: it was perfectly legal.

Any UK-based coffee house would have shown me the door as I graffitied this here url across their wall, but this was the Babalú Coffee House.  And you soon realise upon arriving in Iceland that it has the highest concentration of cool, calm and creative types than just about anywhere else in the world.  Iceland is like the coolest place you've ever visited...just better.  It's so hip that it could bring that very word back into fashion.  
Situated on the Skólavördustigur road and roughly between Ha…