Emma’s character, Vivian Bearing, recites the Sonnet X in the movie Wit, where John Donne plays a central role.
Sonnet X, also known as “Death Be Not Proud“, is a fourteen-line poem by English poet John Donne, one of the leading metaphysical poets of seventeenth-century English literature.
It is a religious poetry about death, resurrection and eternal life.
Death, be not proud, though some have callèd thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so; For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me. From rest and sleep, which yet thy pictures be, Much pleasure, then from thee much more, must low And soonest our best men with thee do go, Rest of their bones and soul's delivery. Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings and desperate men And dost with poison, war and sickness dwell, And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then ? One short sleep past, we wake eternally, And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
In “The children act” Emma Thompson and Fionn Whitehead, playing a judge and a sick boy, duet on Down by the Salley Gardens, a folk song whose words were written by Yeats. It’s a very engaging scene. Emma sings and Fionn plays the guitar.
In the last part of the movie Emma plays the piano and sings alone the same song while the boy is dying with leukemia. The interpretation is poignant and moving.
“Playing the piano at the same time as singing, that was a lot of rehearsal. That took me six months to really get that under my skin. It was really scary, but there’s a tentative quality to it which I really liked because there’s a risk involved when you’re playing and singing live. You ‘re going to make mistakes, and those mistakes contain a lot of the emotion of that scene” Emma said.
Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet; She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet. She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree; But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.
In a field by the river my love and I did stand, And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand. She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs; But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.