Always the Last to Know

A repost for National Poetry Month.

I wanted to look into something original, interesting that I could share about poetry. In my quest to find a fun-fact tidbit, I learned some facts about a childhood movie, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Of course, I’m talking about the chocolate factory with Gene Wilder from 1971.

Before I connect the movie to poetry, I want to point out a few things about the movie. I have seen it several times and never realized the film location was Munich, Germany. When I watched it as a child, the scenery seemed foreign to me, strange even. Now it makes sense. They even recruited Germans to play Oompa Loompas, which many didn’t know the words to the musical songs because they didn’t speak English.

I’m so clueless. Or maybe I shouldn’t even admit to such stupidity.

Now as a child, I did notice Willy Wonka’s spurts of words, how quick he responded to another character. I usually scratched my head in confusion. I thought these spurts of words were riddles I clearly didn’t understand. But I was wrong! Did you know that there are several poetic lines recited throughout the movie? Just say you didn’t know. And that some of Willy’s spurts are poetry lines? Well, they are I tell ya. Unfortunately, I can’t find any specifics as to the reasons for these lines other than they were written into the screenplay.

In the beginning of the movie, a tinker recites at 0:42 of the below clip, Up the airy mountain, / Down the rushy glen, / We daren’t go a-hunting / For fear of little men. This is from “The Fairy Folk” written by William Allingham.


Other lines throughout the movie include: “Is it my soul that calls upon my name?” William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”; “All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by” John Masefield – “Sea Fever”; “A thing of beauty is a joy forever” John Keats’s “Endymion: A Poetic Romance” and “Round the world and home again, that’s the sailor’s way!” William Allingham’s “Homeward Bound”. “We are the music-makers…” Arthur O’Shaughnessy’s “Ode”. “Where is fancy bred…” and “So shines a good deed…”. William Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice”. The lines from the song, Sweet lovers love the spring time, are from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”.

Here is a clip of Willy Wonka saying, “The suspense is terrible, I hope it will last.” A quote from Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest.”


And at 0:22 of the below clip, “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker” is from “Reflections on Ice Breaking” by Ogden Nash.


This is toward the end of the movie, when Willy Wonka tells Charlie he didn’t win. Charlie returns a piece of candy, and at 2:10 in the below clip, Willy says, “So shines a good deed in a weary world.” It’s a quote from Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice,” although Willy says ‘weary world’ instead of Shakespeare’s ‘naughty world.’


So I leave you with a bit more about movies and poetry. Dylan Thomas’ Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night has been used several times by Hollywood, most recently in the movie “Interstellar.”


Poetry in Motion,
Baer Necessities