For me being a Colin Farrell fan involved a lot of winking and at times, cognitive dissonance, because bad boys don’t ordinarily impress me, and he played his bad boy reputation up with every move until it was unsustainable. There was a cuteness to his being brazen, partly because his accent softens his profanity and also because he plays the kid in a candy shop card with women, instead of being cool. But that reputation and the decision not to conceal his tattoos in The New World made his performance as Captain Smith especially raw. This poem, originally about Smith, could as easily be about Colin.
How can love of beauty be so wrong, when it brings peace
to the soul like a reconciliation with the world?
Beauty in a man is unlike beauty in a child or in a woman,
men are strangers to the looks of sudden apprehension beauty brings.
Who is this man among his peers, handsome even in extremity?
In a strange land he is accepted as they are not,
but they find him impenetrable.
If he is not cowed by their reserve and has a steady gaze,
they may be led. But if he is a leader of men in his heart,
his dreams must be more beautiful,
as universal as his ideal form.
He could belong to them, and who could keep him?
Dreams change, but not for anyone. They have their own reasons.
Though they answer to the world they do not answer to the dreamer.
A dream may take a man from what he loves.
And of those who love him, dreams will speak to him as though they are still near.
The truth of beauty is an act of repetition.
Again and again and from every quarter it is acknowledged.
To which witness will the beautiful man be true?
The world must be at odds and he must choose.
Why do we love a rebel without a cause, an anarchist striving to be an atheist, a criminal and a rogue? “When religious and ethical formulae become so obsolete that no man of strong mind can believe them, they have also reached the point at which no man of high character will profess them; and from that moment until they are formally disestablished, they stand at the door of every profession and every public office to keep out every able man who is not a sophist or a liar.” – George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman
A poem I associate with Colin’s personality is “Growing Strong,” by a classicist poet of Alexandria named Cavafy. E.M. Forster discovered Cavafy in Egypt, but he has always been a fairly well kept secret. The poem, written in 1903, is translated from the Greek by Aliki Barnstone.
He who wishes to strengthen his spirit,
must abandon reverence and submission.
He will honor some laws,
but mostly he will break both law and custom,
and he will stray from the accepted, inadequate straight path.
He will be taught much by sensual pleasures.
He will not fear the destructive act;
half the house must be torn down.
This way he will grow virtuously toward knowledge.