Johnny Depp’s John Wilmot, and another dvd

Who wrote this rude but charming lyric?

A young Lady to her ancient Lover.


Ancient Person, for whom I
All the flatt’ring Youth defie;
Long be it e’re thou grow old,
Aking, shaking, crasie, cold.
But still continue as thou art,
Ancient Person of my Heart.


On thy withered Lips and dry,
Which like barren Furrows lie;
Brooding Kisses I will pour,
Shall thy youthful Heart restore.
Such Kind Show’rs in Autumn fall,
And a second Spring recal:
Nor from thee will ever part,
Ancient Person of my Heart.


Thy nobler Part, which but to name,
In our Sex wou’d be counted Shame,
By Ages frozen grasp possess’d
From their Ice shall be releas’d:
And, sooth’d by my reviving Hand,
In former Warmth and Vigour stand.
All a Lover’s Wish can reach,
For thy Joy my Love shall teach:
And for thy Pleasure shall improve
All that Art can add to Love,
Yet still I love thee without Art,
Ancient Person of my Heart.

Yes, John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester (1 April 1647 – 26 July 1680).  See his poems on that beautiful site, Luminarium.

…Sex remained Rochester’s abiding theme. The Rabelaisian lampoons he wrote for private amusement are enduringly scabrous. Signior Dildo , a satire on social climbing and careerist bed-hopping within the court, was such a success that for a while dildoes became known as “signiors”, Larman says.

Born in 1647 to Oxfordshire landowners, Rochester died at the age of only 33, of syphilitic complications. In a country shadowed by the violence of the civil war and the apocalyptic spectacle of the 1665 plague, Rochester “blazed out his youth and health in lavish voluptuousness” and booze, according to Dr Johnson. His luxurious genius cannot be defined solely in terms of alcoholism, though. Rochester’s anarchy was innate and had little need of stimulation. His alter ego, Dr Alexander Bendo, a shady Italian pathologist who trafficked in cures for scurvy and other maladies, anticipated the lugubrious Dr Benway of Burroughs’s Naked Lunch . Rochester’s was a curiously modern spirit…

Blazing Star: The Life and Times of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester review – the wild man of the Restoration.


Last night I watched on DVD (from Wollongong Library) The Libertine (2004): “A play, The Libertine (1994), was written by Stephen Jeffreys, and staged by the Royal Court Theatre. The 2004 film The Libertine, based on Jeffreys’ play, starred Johnny Depp as Rochester, Samantha Morton as Elizabeth Barry, John Malkovich as King Charles II and Rosamund Pike as Elizabeth Malet. Michael Nyman set to music an excerpt of Rochester’s poem, “Signor Dildo” for the film.”

The critics are really divided on this: Rotten Tomatoes gives a good selection. For example, the Toronto Star: “What emerges from the bilious murk of first-time director Laurence Dunmore’s film is a sad picture of an intelligent and talented writer who opted for self-indulgence and gratuitous insult over anything more meaningful.” Personally, I rather liked it, and Johnny Depp really is brilliant in it. As Margaret Pomeranz says:

MARGARET: Do you know, this film started and I thought, “It’s that arch, historical period thing again and I don’t know that I can bear it.” And it is…it just won me over. I love the way it’s written. It made me very curious about Rochester’s writing. I think the women in it are so strong. I mean, the character of Elizabeth Barry is just so…is so strong, and so beautifully portrayed by Samantha Morton. And Rosamund Pike as the wife, is fabulous. But the centre to it all is Johnny Depp. And he is just extraordinary.
DAVID: He’s very anachronistic but it’s deliberately…I mean, the dialogue, a lot of the dialogue is very modern, contemporary sort of dialogue, isn’t it?
MARGARET: Well, I think we ought to warn people that it’s very contemporary 4-letter language but it must have been around quite a lot then, too.
DAVID: I think so, yes.
MARGARET: But it’s actually really moving. And I found myself, you know, crying at the end of it. I thought it was just such a beautiful piece of…
DAVID: Well, I think that’s a testament to the success of Depp’s performance.
MARGARET: Yes, and the character that, you know, he was.

Margaret: four stars David: three-and-a-half stars

See also Sandra Hall in the Sydney Morning Herald.



The other DVD I saw the night before last. It was Daniel Algrant’s Greetings from Tim Buckley (2013).

In 1991, a young musician named Jeff Buckley (Penn Badgley) rehearses for his public singing debut at a Brooklyn tribute concert for his father, the late folk singer Tim Buckley. Struggling with the legacy of a man he barely knew, Jeff finds solace in a relationship with an enigmatic young woman (Imogen Poots) working at the show. As they explore New York City, their adventures recall glimpses of Tim’s (Ben Rosenfield) own 60s heyday, as he drives cross-country with a girlfriend and finds himself on the verge of stardom. Leading up to the now-legendary show that launched Jeff’s own brilliant career, GREETINGS FROM TIM BUCKLEY is a poignant mirror portrait of father and son, two of the most beloved singer-songwriters of their generations.

The Film Mafia blog notes:

Almost experimental in its approach (and the most distilled possible version of a “biopic”, examining about four days in its subject’s life), it’s a quiet movie of small rewards, made by a whole lot of talented people taking a risk and pulling it off with humble aplomb.


I really liked it and plan to watch it again. Great evocation of Brooklyn/New York as well.