Monday, April 6, 2009

April is the Cruelest Month

While in the garden yesterday, TS Eliot's The Wasteland came to mind:

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.

I've often puzzled over Eliot characterizing April as cruel, especially since it's a time of rebirth for both nature and the liturgical calendar. But as I pulled the dead leaves off parts of the garden yesterday to be greeted by the tops of eager plants peeking out of the ground, I thought about the balance of life and death, how one must live with the other.
April is National Poetry Month, an art form that seems on the verge of extinction. Or perhaps, as Eliot might have it, it is merely dormant, about to stir from its slumber back to live with renewed vitality.


Tom Judson said...

There's a terrific jazz standard which is purportedly a beatnik interpretation of the eliot poem. Here are the lyrics (by Fran Landesman.)

Spring this year has got me feeling like a horse that never left the post;
I lie in my room staring up at the ceiling,
Spring can really hang you up the most!

Mornings kiss wakes tres and flowers,
And to them Id like to drink a toast;
I walk in the park just to kill lonely hours,
Spring can really hang you up the most.

All afternoon those birds twitter twit,
I know the tune, this is love, this is it!
Heard it before and I know the score,
And Ive decided that spring is a bore!

Love seemed sure around the new year,
Now its april, love is just a ghost;
Spring arrived on time, only what became of you, dear?
Spring can really hang you up the most!

Nadine @ BDG said...

I love it! You've got to add it to your caberet act!