May 1, 2009

"The Waste Land"

"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 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..."

It's May day....or is that mayday? It seems like more of the the latter.

Anyway, I can't help but think of this passing April without thinking of dear old T.S.'s famous first line. It rings true right about now.

It's actually one of my favorite poems.

Once upon a time in a speech and "acting" class I took as an undergrad (a requirement bizarrely enough) I choose this poem (the first 70 odd lines, that is) to memorize and deliver in front of an audience.

Amazingly, I did fairly well, considering my complete inability to memorize anything. You should have heard me rumbling over that German...but I got through it just the same.
There's a metaphor in there somewhere, I know.


ayem8y said...

How appropriate for my beautiful Spring flowers will soon wilt under severe Summer heat and create a vast wasteland of my garden.

I was terrified of speech class in college. I video taped myself reciting and rehearsing my words and then replayed the tape endlessly. By the time I got in front of the class I had the thing committed to memory and knew exactly the tone, inflection, gestures, and expressions that I wanted to portray.

I hate making speeches which is odd because I find myself making them all the time now.

mrpeenee said...

Yet again reminding me how very unlettered I am. I had no idea "April is the cruelest month" was the first line of an Eliot poem. If I had thought about, I would probably have guessed Shakespeare or maybe a particularly fanciful hymn. I'm mortified. It is a lovely piece, though, isn't it?

MJ said...

Is dandy
But liquor
Is quicker.

-- Ogden Nash

Elizabeth said...

So brilliant and sad. Must re-re-re-read it. Thanks for reminding me.