Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind

Posted: October 4, 2011 in cinema, movies, poetry
Tags: , ,

EUA, 2004. Directed by Michel Gondry. Cast: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Wilkinson, Elijah Wood.

“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is a 2004 American romantic fantasy film about an estranged couple who have each other erased from their memories, scripted by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Michel Gondry. The film uses elements of science fiction and nonlinear narration to explore the nature of memory and romantic love. The film was a critical and commercial success, developing a strong cult following and receiving a myriad of accolades, winning the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The film was lauded by critics as one of the best and most thought-provoking films of 2004.Learn more about this movie at Wikipedia.


Published in 1717, “Eloisa to Abelard” is a poem by Alexander Pope (1688–1744). It is an Ovidian heroic epistle inspired by the 12th-century story of Héloïse’s illicit love for, and secret marriage to, her teacher Pierre Abélard, perhaps the most popular teacher and philosopher in Paris, and the brutal vengeance that her family exacts when they castrate him, even though the lovers had married. After the assault, and even though they have a child, Abélard enters a monastery and bids Eloisa to do the same. She is tortured by the separation and by her unwilling vow of silence — arguably, a symbolic castration — which she takes with her eyes fixed upon Abélard rather than upon the cross (line 116). Years later, she gets done Historia Calamitatum (History of my Misfortunes), which is a letter of consolation to a friend, and her passion for him is reawakened. Eloisa and Abelard exchange four letters. In an effort to make sense of their personal tragedy, they explore the nature of human and divine love. However, their incompatible male and female perspectives make painful the dialogue for both.

Alexander Pope (1688–1744)

Lines 207–210 were spoken in the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, which borrowed line 209 as its title: “How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!  The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d;”
Mary Svevo (Kirsten Dunst), the character who recites these lines, claims that it is a quote from “Pope Alexander”, and is later corrected by Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson). An excerpt of a puppet show, entitled “Eloisa and Abelard”, which depicts the two lovers, is performed by the character, Craig Schwartz, in the movie “Being John Malkovich”. Both films were written by Charlie Kaufman.


How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d;
Labour and rest, that equal periods keep;
“Obedient slumbers that can wake and weep;”
Desires compos’d, affections ever ev’n,
Tears that delight, and sighs that waft to Heav’n.
Grace shines around her with serenest beams,
And whisp’ring angels prompt her golden dreams.
For her th’ unfading rose of Eden blooms,
And wings of seraphs shed divine perfumes,
For her the Spouse prepares the bridal ring,
For her white virgins hymeneals sing,
To sounds of heav’nly harps she dies away,
And melts in visions of eternal day.

Far other dreams my erring soul employ,
Far other raptures, of unholy joy:
When at the close of each sad, sorrowing day,
Fancy restores what vengeance snatch’d away,
Then conscience sleeps, and leaving nature free,
All my loose soul unbounded springs to thee.
Oh curs’d, dear horrors of all-conscious night!
How glowing guilt exalts the keen delight!
Provoking Daemons all restraint remove,
And stir within me every source of love.
I hear thee, view thee, gaze o’er all thy charms,
And round thy phantom glue my clasping arms.
I wake — no more I hear, no more I view,
The phantom flies me, as unkind as you.
I call aloud; it hears not what I say;
I stretch my empty arms; it glides away.
To dream once more I close my willing eyes;
Ye soft illusions, dear deceits, arise!
Alas, no more — methinks we wand’ring go
Through dreary wastes, and weep each other’s woe,
Where round some mould’ring tower pale ivy creeps,
And low-brow’d rocks hang nodding o’er the deeps.
Sudden you mount, you beckon from the skies;
Clouds interpose, waves roar, and winds arise.
I shriek, start up, the same sad prospect find,
And wake to all the griefs I left behind.

For thee the fates, severely kind, ordain
A cool suspense from pleasure and from pain;
Thy life a long, dead calm of fix’d repose;
No pulse that riots, and no blood that glows.
Still as the sea, ere winds were taught to blow,
Or moving spirit bade the waters flow;
Soft as the slumbers of a saint forgiv’n,
And mild as opening gleams of promis’d heav’n.

Come, Abelard! for what hast thou to dread?
The torch of Venus burns not for the dead.
Nature stands check’d; Religion disapproves;
Ev’n thou art cold — yet Eloisa loves.
Ah hopeless, lasting flames! like those that burn
To light the dead, and warm th’ unfruitful urn.

To see Pope’s poem “Eloisa to Abelard”, click here.

Enjoy the movie “Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind” gallery.

  1. grande filme! aliás adoro o gondry.

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