Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Special Tribute to Charlie Chaplin on his Birthday

Last night we celebrated Charlie's 125th with a dinner, some Mutual shorts, and lively conversation around the table. "We" were Janet Riehl, Jerry Garrett, Joe and Sharon Delmore, Pam and Jack Beahan, and Mary Lee and I. 

Janet brought appetizers as served in the 1920's, with antique plates from that era (she's a multi-faceted artist)Riehl Life
I made chicken cacciatore from scratch; Jack brought an absolutely incredible salad; Joe brought shortbread cookies made in England; Jerry contributed his delightful observations and sense of humor; we had a special cake (with ice cream); and Jack even brought a blackened shoe ala one of Chaplin's iconic scenes. 

The highlight of the evening, however was a poem written by Pam Beahan especially for this occasion. 

Pam is an accomplished poet and, along with husband Jack, a devoted fan of Chaplin. This is the third year in which she has written something for Charlie's birthday.. and, in my opinion, was her most compelling effort yet. She reached deeply into the man and his creation. Here is her introduction, followed by the poem. 

Gold Rush
by Pam Beahan, April 2014 honor of Charlie Chaplin's original 1925 film The Gold Rush,
the film by which he said that he would most like to be remembered.
And to remember his films is to remember him, for he also said that
if we want to know him, we are to watch his films.

* * *

The Gold Rush

Yes, in Charlie's film, gold does abound,
But not just in the frozen Alaskan ground.
No, instead, the most priceless golden treasures here to be found
Are mined from deep within the richest veins
of Charlie's golden heart, soul, and mind.

A battered old shoe from the Tramp's only pair
Breathes life a-new as Thanksgiving fare to thwart starvation,
despite plunging his now-freezing foot into deprivation
But, for him, no gift's too great, no time's too late
From a heart that shines gold, as it warms the cold,
by softly smiling its sacrifice.

At times, a speck of hope touches the Tramp's heart,
and bubbles up and erupts into uncontainable shimmers
that transform his eyes and body into dancing bursts of golden joy.

Other times, as befalls us all, at times,
his hopes, his innocence, and his joy
are swiftly ravaged, plundered, demeaned, degraded and shattered into
sharply lethal shards that catch and tear within his throat, his eyes, his heart, his soul...
And the only speck of gold dust left for him is to somehow struggle to go on...
...with a throat shredded wordless,
...with eyes ripped gleamless,
...with a heart drained nearly bloodless,
...and with a soul slashed soul less.

And yet, the richest gold, the strongest rush, after all, is that, at last,
his worth is seen, his treasure known, his hope replanted, his joy regrown.

At film's end, as we mine what we have seen,
Charlie's golden gifts can warm our own brightening souls
where we can search today, tomorrow, and yesterday for golden treasures of our own...
For, Charlie once more has shown that we need not rush 
to search for some cold and distant gold,
For it's been inside us all, all along.

* * *


  1. A glorious evening.
    A profound poem.

  2. Sounds like a wonderful way to spend Charlie's birthday Gerry. Just curious, which Mutuals did you all watch? A beautiful poem!