British actor Alan Rickman‘s characters were powerful and piercingly intense, but it was the vivid command of his voice quality that always singularly struck me. He was every character he ever played. On my list of things to do is to watch everything I can find in which he played a role. I am saddened that his gift is no longer with us.
…an English actor and director, known for playing a variety of roles on stage and screen, often as a complex antagonist. Rickman trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, performing in modern and classical theatre productions. His first big television part came in 1982, but his big break was as the Vicomte de Valmont in the stage production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses in 1985, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. Rickman gained wider notice for his film performances as Hans Gruber in Die Hard and Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film series.”
Below is a recording of Mr. Rickman reading the poem1, If Death Is Not the End. (Source: Audioboom) I found it easier to read along as he speaks.
If Death Is Not the End
If death is not the end, I’d like to know what is.
For all eternity we don’t exist,
except for now.
In my gumshoe mac, I shuffled to the clifftop,
Stood well back,
and struck a match to light my life;
And as it flared it fell in darkness
Lighting nothing but itself.
I saw my life fall and thought:
Well, kiss my physics!
Time is over, or it’s not,
But this I know:
Life passes through us like the blade
Of bamboo growing through the prisoner pegged down in the glade
It pierces your blood, your screaming head –
Life is what happened to the dead.
Forever we do not exist
Except for now.
Life passes through us like a beam
Of charcoal green – a golden gleam,
The opposite of how it seems:
It’s not you that goes through life
– life is the knife that cuts your dream
Around the seam
And leaves you turned on in the stream, laughing with your mouth open,
Until the stream is gone,
Leaving you cracked mud,
Not even there to be absent,
From the heartbeat of a dying fish.
In bed, upstairs, I feel your pulse run with the clock
And reach your hand
And lock us with our fingers
As if we were bumping above the Pole.
Yet I know by dawn
Your hand will be dry bone
I’ll have slept through your goodbye, no matter how long I wake.
Life winds on,
Through Cheri and Karl who can no longer smell chocolate,
Or see with wonder wind inflate the sail,
Or answer mail
Life flies on
Through Katy who was Catherine but is bound for Kate
Who looks over her shoulder at the demon Azmodeus,
And sees the Daily Mail
(I clutch my purse. I had it just now.)
Life slices through
The frozen butter in the Alpine wreck.
(I found your photo upside down
I never kissed a girl so long,
So long, so lovely or so wrong)
Life is what kills you in the end
And I can cry
But you won’t be there to be sorry
You were made of life
For ever we did not exist
We woke and for a second kissed.
Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman
February 21, 1946 – January 14, 2016 (age 69)