APRIL REALLY WAS THE CRUELEST MONTH: THE WASTE LAND, BY T.S. ELLIOT

I tell people I don’t like poetry. That’s not exactly true. I do like poetry. I like funny poems, I like poems that remind me of things that were important but have faded in memory. I don’t like my own poetry, even though when I was a teenager, I wrote a lot of it. I have to admit to a youthful passion for Ferlinghetti and ee cummings. Also, T.S. Eliot and occasionally, Ezra Pound, especially when they weren’t taking themselves too seriously.

And because he was so very much New England’s own poet,  Robert Frost. We even have an Eisenstadt (original) photograph of him in the house. Garry interviewed him during his last years. He understood this strange part of the world and the crazy people who live here. He understood the woods and the rocks and the roots and the snow.

Today, however, I am treating you to a T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” which opens with a line to which at long last, we can all relate: April is the cruellest month.

It has been a cruel month and sadly, although we have slid into May, the cruelty has not finished with us. When T.S. Eliot wasn’t writing about cats, he was not an easy read.

The Waste Land

FOR EZRA POUND
IL MIGLIOR FABBRO

              I. The Burial of the Dead

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.

Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the arch-duke’s,
My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.




Categories: Author, Literature, Marilyn Armstrong, Photography, poem, Poetry

Tags: , , , , , ,

11 replies

  1. Gorgeous flowers!!!! I used to love poetry. |It faded with time. I’ve personally forgotten how to write it and haven’t in forever! sigh.

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  2. I sensed melancholia… I love April… time of renewal. Crocus and daffodils, followed by tulips… Missouri is beautiful in the spring along the river, and the Mississippi is just a skinny ocean.

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    • We almost never get spring. Something about the way the winds blow out from land and in from the ocean. We used to get a really glorious autumn, but the last two years were duds. We didn’t even get snow this year. NONE. New England always has erratic weather, but it’s twice as bad as climate change is moving in.

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  3. April certainly was cruel here too. May isn’t getting a good start. We have had one day of sunny warm weather and it’s getting colder now and is suppose to snow on Friday.
    Lesile 😦

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  4. We seem to have the same taste in poets. I used to teach those poems,but one of my favorites was “The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock.” If you can imagine, some of my classes consisted of all 17 and 18-year old boys, and they really got into poetry. Your lilac photos are incredibly beautiful. I am having problems with my eyesight these days, but those are a treat for my sight.

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    • I like that one too. Not every line. He did need to tighten up a bit, but within it are such great lines. Yeats was another favorite. Slouching Towards Bethlehem: The Second Coming STILL gives me chills. I remember standing and looking at his gravesite in Sligo. There’s poetry carved into his headstone, too.

      But this one did seem very appropriate, given the state of April!

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    • We have almost no lilacs anymore. It was an enormous, old lilac tree, having long passed the bush stage of growth. Also, two different trees fell on it and broke it down the middle. Despite that, it regrew, but the only lilacs we get are way at the top and it’s about two weeks early for them. I use a VERY long lens to capture them.

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