Yesterday was the annual Star Wars Day. A few days ago we lost Peter Mayhew, who brought the character Chewbacca off the pages of problematic script after problematic script, never failing to embody one of the most rightly beloved sci-fi sidekicks ever. Earlier this month an invigorating teaser trailer dropped for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the final film in a nine part saga George Lucas promised fans a long time ago.
I’ve become quite good at not stressing out about how new Star Wars films turn out. My policy is to sit back and have fun. But in 2015, I did stress out as ownership of my most favorite film saga passed from its founder to Disney. I did not feel dread. I just felt confident that the first distinct era of Star Wars storytelling, the one in which I’d grown up, was ending.
Many times in 2015, I thought back to my earliest childhood memory: gazing up at a movie screen in 1977 or ’78 and hearing the still small voice of a spirit Jedi say to a boy like me, “Run, Luke! Run!” So, four years ago, I wrote the following poem. If it helps, you can imagine the setting of this poem as an old drive-in movie theater where a solitary guy reminisces.
Elegy for a Country Space Opera
Twin sunsets fade like knells of parting day,
As whistling droids whir—steadfast—o’er a dune,
The fanboy starward dreams his leery way,
But leaves that world to Disney all too soon.
Now silence cloaks a landscape raised for mirth,
He treads its gravel waves, rock mem’ry spice,
Like one who shirked the moisture farmer’s worth,
Then nearly perished, sown within Hoth’s ice.
For such, the glimm’ring landscape of the night
Fades out, marked by the telling Mynock shrieks,
Save where a vast white screen now waits for light,
To cast again the Falcon fandom seeks.
Can any reprise hope to freshen lore,
Which strikes back with new lessons harder learned?
Son’s eyes reflected matching suns before,
Tear-glazed, their father’s pyre light returned.
Let not awakened icons wear out joy,
First witnessed as wide grins in Yavin’s nave;
Though medaled hero stood then as a boy,
The paths of sequels lead but to the grave.
So too, the fanboy grays into a man,
No more to pilot drive-in playground swings.
His mind a hermitage, this would-be Han
Now smuggles fondness for his old musings.
Full many a boy of Jedi’s worth now lives,
The dark nonfiction caves of this world bear;
Full many a Leia to drubbed Luke now gives
A savior’s kiss in grounded city air.
Far from the cineplex, this rustic youth,
Who read dire word crawls from a pickup bed,
Was led by Ben Kenobi’s tailored truth;
Delusions grand—Yodaic in his head—
Forbade by life’s rude lot prequels to pen,
This almost-George, no Empire’s rod did sway;
He left the greatest tale of Anakin
Unwritten long ago and far away.
“Oh, be wan,” gibes Salacious ‘neath the sand.
“Would all could rest their heads on Disney’s hearth,
Who’ve lived within, like each new rebel band,
The bosom of their Father and their Darth.”
The above piece is patterned after Thomas Gray’s classic poem Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. It’s a must read for lovers of English literature.
The featured image is an original illustration by professional cartoonist Jay P. Fosgitt. Back in 2015, I commissioned it from Jay to accompany this poem. It’s his own treatment of Star Wars nostalgia, meant to complement rather than depict this elegy.