Thursday, April 8, 2010

April is the Cruelest Month

Discovery, better late than never! All I remember of Eliot's The Wasteland is the first line, and I blush to say that after all these years since college I had in mind that Ezra Pound wrote it. Finally I went to my Norton Anthology [I'm of the generation that thinks of reference books before I think of Wikipedia] and read the whole thing. Maybe now I understand ... maybe most of it. Anyway it is April and here is the first stanza of this very long, very worth revisiting masterpiece whatever your current age, however long ago you read it, or if you never have read it -- you can go to Wikipedia in a couple keystrokes.

April is the cruelest 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 colonade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour,
Bingar keine Russin, stamm aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the archduke'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.


LimesNow said...

Thank you for T.S. Eliot, June! I just put part of the poem up on the calendar in my office, to the consternation of my young mail co-workers. Their dismay over anything cultured makes me appreciate it even more.

Kass said...

That first line is a killer!

Dave King said...

I too go to Norton before Wikipedia - same generation. The problems with "The Wasteland" stem largely from the fact that Eliot set out to make it difficult to blow away the Victorian poetry of the day. It's the hidden references that cause most people - myself included - to miss so much. I much prefer The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock
A good read - great blog.