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TU VAS NOUS MANQUER an ode to Marcel Marceau

Marcel Marceau, the master of mime who transformed silence into poetry with lithe gestures and pliant facial expressions that spoke to generations of young and old, has died. He was 84.

Wearing white face paint, soft shoes and a battered hat topped with a red flower, Marceau breathed new life into an art that dates to ancient Greece. He played out the human comedy through his alter-ego Bip without ever uttering a word.

Offstage, he was famously chatty. "Never get a mime talking. He won't stop," he once said.

A French Jew, Marceau escaped deportation to a Nazi death camp during World War II, unlike his father who died in Auschwitz. Marceau worked with the French Resistance to protect Jewish children, and later used the memories of his own life to feed his art.

He gave life to a wide spectrum of characters, from a peevish waiter to a lion tamer to an old woman knitting, and to the best-known Bip.

As in silent motion
white faced petals
polish our living

nestled near, ready to rise
and outshine the sorrow
etched upon our face;
hate, that rusty nail
on the floor of hell piercing
the naked feet of our foul specter.

As in silent motion
dream’s painted face
fetches our melody…

Je dois y aller maintenant.

© 2007 mrp/thepoetryman

Many thanks to Ben Heine for the Marceau portrait accompanying the poem.

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