Thursday, October 28, 2004

“Goodnight, you princes of Maine… you kings of New England.”

The Movie: The Cider House Rules, 1997 (John Irving, screenwriter, from his novel; Lasse Hallstrom, dir.)
Who says it: Michael Caine as Dr. Wilbur Larch, head of the St. Cloud orphanage and sometime abortionist
The context: This is Larch’s nightly blessing on the boys who live in his orphanage, who have no family but Maine.
How to use it: Handy for farewells in this part of the country.

Anna's friend Joycie, from Australia, is staying here too. Last night we alternated between watching the baseball game and going outside to look at the lunar eclipse. It's so dark up here. I lay on the grass for a minute, until it got too cold, and looked at the Milky Way. Dizzy didn't like it, he thought I was hurt or crazy -- and sometimes I am, but not last night.

Tom and I speculated the other day -- and my brother Ed was talking about this last weekend -- about whether people really will die now that the Red Sox have won the World Series. The TV newscasters have been trotting all these ancient Red Sox fans out over the past week, and they all say, "Once they win the World Series, I can die happy."

But what does this mean? Are they really all planning to die now? "Think of all the medical resources that would free up," Tom said.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

To those of us who are "from" Maine and not just passing thought... "The context: This is Larch’s nightly blessing on the boys who live in his orphanage, who have no family but Maine."

Means so much more - to us it means as Mainers we are the kings of New England and as such we are the 'Princes' of New England... I don't know I guess you would have to be where I am from to understand...

AnswerGirl said...

Well, this is the power of art. You've invested those lines with a power that neither John Irving, who wrote them, nor Michael Caine, who said them, could have felt personally -- neither of them is a long-term Maine resident.

Had you read any more of my blog, you'd have seen that I'm not just passing through -- I live in Maine now, though I freely acknowledge that I will always be From Away.

It does frustrate me when people comment on blogs anonymously. Please sign your posts, folks.

Rebecca said...

"From" is very relative in some ways. I've lived in my current city for 20 years. Almost longer than the place I grew up. So what does that make me? There are things I love about both, hate about where I grew up, and annoy me in both places. :)

In any case, I was trying to find out if there was some other source of this quote. It sticks in one's head. :)

-not anon

terry tao said...

1999

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0124315/

Doctordutch said...

I may not be as intelligent as the other bloggers but for those not from Maine or New England and for those who grew up reading, watching or listening to “folksy” fairy tales may interpret the phrase, “Goodnight you princes of Maine & you Kings of New England” with more simplicity. I’m sure the u.s. states are interchangeable like most folk stories or folk lyrics depending on where you’re from. Therefore, “Maine” and “New England” are meaningless, especially to thus not from Maine or New England. I think the underline meaning is no different then your parents calling you “Prince Charles” if you name were Charles or Princess Julianne. It’s a motivational speech. It makes the child feel important, like royalty. It tells the child he’s destined for greatness. Its meant to stimulate dreams for the future.
Dan
Ps. I’m from Canada. I don’t know anything about American history. Maybe Lurch was a confederate with Loyalist parents and felt New England was meant to rule itself. Lol. What’s a confederate?

Doctordutch said...

Wait. was there a question? lol. I think I blogged the wrong page.

AnswerGirl said...

This is not a folk saying, as far as I can tell, but something that came from the mind of the author John Irving, who first gave the line to his fictional character in his 1985 book, THE CIDER HOUSE RULES, and adapted the dialogue into the 1999 film of the same name.

Clearly, it resonates with a lot of people, but I haven't found any evidence that the saying predates John Irving, or is anything more (or less) than the inspiration of one brilliant author. If someone can provide documentation of its use before 1985, I'd be very curious to see it.

Frank said...

Well whatever the history of the line, or the context you view it in, it still makes me cry.
Frank (from England, not New England)

Jennifer said...

I think it's plainly a nice way to say goodnight. :)

ocean said...

it was an orphanage for boys and girls... i read the book a while back, so he details are a little sketchy.That line however touched me in a way...for a child to be addressed by the title king or prince of so and so a place gives them ownership of something.For orphans who own nothing,,,not even parents, i would imagine it to be a grand gesture.as a girl though...it saddened me that the female orphans received not such salute:(... just my humble opinion.I hail from south africa, and know nothing about maine or new england or canada... sounds like a beautiful place though:)

editor said...

@Doctordutch -
I wholeheartedly agree w/ your take on this-
"It makes the child feel important, like royalty. It tells the child he’s destined for greatness. Its meant to stimulate dreams for the future. "

tallred67 said...

Hear, hear!

Marie said...

YES ! I believe it was to reveal what was truly in the doctor's heart ! He referred to the boys as princes, as they were young BUT in following up with "Kings of New England" he was addressing empowerment ~~~ they would be empowered in that orphanage if he had anything to do with it !! Their geographical area happened to be Maine BUT remember in American History, the importance of NEW ENGLAND !! Michael Caine represented a doctor who truly cared for the children ! He did not just run an orphanage for something to do, his heart was in it ~~~ for children AND for their mothers and women...