Video: ‘Fall,’ A Poem for Buster Keaton


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[Editor’s note: We originally published this video essay paying tribute to the great Buster Keaton December 1, 2011, as part of the series The Silent Artists, a follow-up to our three-way tribute to the silent kings of comedy. It’s now re-posted to toast Keaton’s The Cameraman at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival July 15, sponsored by Fandor. For more on Fandor’s Silents, take a peek at This video is based on “Fall,” a poem by Dana Stevens, film critic for Slate. The poem originally appeared in the January 1999 issue of The Atlantic.]


By Dana Stevens

for Buster Keaton


Buster, here in ‘Steamboat Bill, Jr.,’ hastens his disaster.

Ever wester
ever faster
Buster, hasten
your disaster.

Film is falling,
time a twister,
sound unfurling
her nor’easter.

Scale the mast
and list to keening.
Buster, listen:
are you dreaming?

Are you falling?
Are you flying?
Buster, cinema
is dying.

Not a whisper.
Never laughter.
Buster, thank you
for disaster.

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