SOME RISE BY SIN, AND SOME BY VIRTUE FALL


MEASURE FOR MEASURE AND THE THIRD MAN
TALES FROM THE SEWERS OF VIENNA

SOME RISE BY SIN, SOME BY VIRTUE FALL

 

Says Mr. Popescu – about Anna,
or Isabella – ‘She ought to go careful
in Vienna. Everybody
ought to go careful in this city.’ ‘Even,’
adds Lucio, ‘the fantastical
duke of dark corners.’ Tyranny has scope
in the paradox between nature and art.

The movie is shown, three days a week, on a loop
at the Burg Kino on Opernring. In the play,
Vienna, under the Duke, is depraved –
brothels abound, citizens, unleashed,
give the finger to laws as well as morals
but, in the dénouement, the Duke confounds
the dissemblers and offers Isabella
marriage. We never know if she accepts.

Beneath the statue of Franz Josef,
Dr. Winkle, Baron Kurtz and a third man
exploit victims of dissembling: children
who die needlessly, always elsewhere, always
bemused with pain. In the late Emperor’s
sewers, Harry Lime lives! The truthful poets are
excluded from ideal republics or
dukedoms. ‘Hence,’ says the Duke, ‘shall we see if
power change purpose, what our seemers be…’
So, Holly Martins, a successful writer
of Westerns, outguns his high school friend.

In the cemetery’s main avenue
of pollarded trees – which shed their leaves, art,
of course, confounding nature – Holly waits,
the handle of his hold-all in his right hand,
as Anna walks towards him and the zither
sounds. She passes by, unseeing.

 

 

 

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  1. #1 by John Huddart - February 25th, 2015 at 22:18

    You were that fantastical Duke! Part Harry and part Holly, wheeling and dealing to reform your own corruption. What a good idea to link these two charismatics in a poem!

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