Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Poetry and Naked City

It’s Sunday. Detective Adam Flint (Paul Burke) is calling on his girlfriend, aspiring actress Libby Kingston (Nancy Malone). AF carries with him a salami. He presses the buzzer at 3 Sheridan Square, and he and LK talk on the intercom.

LK: Good morning.

AF: Good morning, fair lady. Come on, the lark is on the wing. God is in his heaven, and all is right with the world. And young Lochinvar has come to the West Side to bring you glad tidings and a fresh salami.

LK: Hail to thee, blithe salami-bringer! Bird thou never wert.

AF: Oh no? Well listen to this: cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo.


From the Naked City episode “Requiem for a Sunday Afternoon,” first aired November 6, 1961. Teleplay by Howard Rodman.
The sources:
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn:
God’s in his heaven —
All’s right with the world!

Robert Browning, “Pippa Passes” (1841)


O, young Lochinvar is come out of the west

Walter Scott, Marmion (1808)


Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!
    Bird thou never wert

Percy Bysshe Shelley, “To a Skylark” (1820)
Two grown-ups, quick, allusive, and crazy in love. They don’t write dialogue like this anymore.

A related post
Perry Mason and John Keats

comments: 4

Adair said...

The amazing thing is, a good portion of the audience watching the show in those days would have caught some or all of the references.

Michael Leddy said...

Yes, exactly. I would imagine that lots of people memorized such stuff in school.

Elaine said...

I recognized them....but, then, I'm O-L-D. I use WERT in word games often, and 'To a Skylark' always comes to mind. I finally truly understood that piece when I lived in Europe and witnessed the Spring courtship flights of skylarks above the pale green fields of rye....

Anonymous said...

Hail to thee, blithe salami-bringer!
Bird thou never wert.
I expect you got it piled on rye
With mayo, mustard but just a squirt.
Quick, allusive, crazy in love
As groan-pups seem to be,
They dialogue some clever stuff
Plucked from the classical poets' tree.
Courtship flights of skylarks
Above the loaf of rye
Call to mind a delicatessen,
An egg cream and a piece of pie.