Nationality: United States

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot

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Poem and reading by T. S. Eliot (text here)

Animation by Everett Wilson, who writes:

I produced the visuals for this poem by T.S. Eliot in the fall of 2001, during my brief time in the Media program at the University of Lethbridge. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, an Animated Rendition of T.S. Eliot’s Poem” appeared in the “highlights reel” of the Melbourne International Student Animation Festival, which traveled to select universities across Australia. After receiving feedback on YouTube, I replaced the original narration with T.S. Eliot’s voice in this 2007 revision.

There are other Prufrock videos on YouTube, but this is by far the best of those I’ve seen.

Some Days by Billy Collins

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Poem and reading by Billy Collins — text here

Animation by Julian Grey of Head Gear Animation, produced by JWT-NY

I have to say these Billy Collins videos from JWT-NY (there are nine total; I’ll post them all eventually) are really an improvement over the straight texts. This is just a matter of personal taste, of course, but Collins’ poems tend to bore me after the first reading. The video adaptations, by contrast, invite repeated viewings. I’m sure there’s a lesson there somewhere…

I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died by Emily Dickinson

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Poem by Emily Dickinson:

I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air –
Between the Heaves of Storm –

The Eyes around – had wrung them dry –
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset – when the King
Be witnessed – in the Room –

I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away
What portions of me be
Assignable – and then it was
There interposed a Fly –

With Blue – uncertain stumbling Buzz –
Between the light – and me –
And then the Windows failed – and then
I could not see to see –

Video by Lynn Tomlinson. It won the Keith Clarke Prize for animation at the 1989 Ann Arbor Film Festival.

An eerie adaptation of the Emily Dickinson poem, told from after death. Created in clay-on-glass animation. This was my first film in this technique, made in 1989.

There are a number of other animations of this poem on YouTube, but none of them hold a candle to this one. Its only major flaw is the pixelation — perhaps the artist was trying to protect her work from being ripped off. In addition to the YouTube page linked above, Tomlinson has a proper website here.

[UPDATE 11/29/09] For a much higher quality version, see the video gallery on Tomlinson’s website.

[UPDATE 2/13/12] Higher-resolution version at Vimeo swapped in (see comments).