Ninian Kinnier-Wilson (died 7th February, 2013)I am not on the whole prone to mark the passing of people with poems, but last week a very special individual passed away (much too early) and I felt I wanted to write the poem below ('For Ninian') as my own personal tribute to Ninnian Kinnier-Wilson.
He was one of the group of people (along with John Broadbent and John Glennard) who founded 'The Unfortunati' back in the 1980's. This was probably the first attempt to recreate commedia dell'arte for a contemporary audience in the UK in modern times and therefore paved the way for companies like ours.
Of course that in itself is something to celebrate, but sometimes it is enough to celebrate individuals just for themselves, just because they are special and took a course through life that sets them apart from the rest of us. But not even because of their material achievements: Ninian was a great mask-maker (and made the Eloise mask for us which we used in 'The Wife of Bath') and a terrific commedia performer. But rather when John Broadbent rang me the other day to tell me about his passing I felt I had to write something just because he was such a good person. In truth I didn't know him that well and met him only a few times, but goodness is a rare and bright thing and like the stars you don't need to be close to see it. It shines out across the universe. I just wish I had known him better. So...
Come with me and watch the world go by.
Maybe we’ll sit on cliffs way up where seagulls cry,
Legs dangling dangerously in cheerful disregard
for time, or age, as years fly
in whoops and wheels beneath us
- however hard
the wind and breakers try
to beat and crash and thrash the sea into a trillion pieces.
Come with me and watch the boats pass by.
Maybe we’ll watch them bustle in the hue and cry,
And tussle in the race
for place and rank and station.
The flags of every nation!
We’ll watch their dances
Amidst the spume and froth,
Watch them doff their hats and wink at rivals
(and other late arrivals).
Watch them tack,
Raise their spinnakers,
The minnows, shrimps and small fry Gullivers,
And try their fine manoeuvres.
Take their chances!
And then around a headland comes,
Bigger than the rest -
Bow like a giant’s chest -
A ship of gentle stature
Moving gracefully with poise,
Oblivious to the noise and clatter -
Its sail unfurled. Its bow arc spread
wide across the world –
And all things move aside.
And so it is sometimes with men
Who move with equilibrium
Between the twittering mob and fuss.
Souls just bigger than the rest of us!