Tuesday, April 21, 2009

April Poetry Challenge: T.S. Eliot

When I was in high school, Julia Polk gave me the poems of T.S. Eliot to read. Now, there isn't much in Eliot for a fourteen year old to understand, but I loved the language and the rhythm of his poetry. Though I didn't know what he meant most of the time, I could connect with the deep sadness and loneliness of his poems.

His poem, "The Wasteland" opens with these words: "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."

As spring flowers start to bloom, I long to break into bloom, also. When my life is full of disappointment and grief, spring is like a hair shirt, covering me in an uncomfortable and inconsolable itch for something better--for love, for peace, for growth. I wouldn't have understood all of that intellectually in high school, but I did understand that when winter matches our moods, spring can be an uncomfortable jolt.

As a gardener, I'm not sure I understand his use of lilacs here. Yes, they bloom in April, but they bloom so far from the ground. I know that to use spring bulbs--daffodils, crocus, and the like-- would have been trite. And roses aren't out in April, though they, too, are overdone. But I love Eliot, and I trust his artistry, so maybe the choice of lilacs is a good one here. The lilac may be like our own hearts and souls, sometimes spring has to travel a bit farther in order break into blossom.


Anonymous said...

I LOVE that you mixed poetry with quilting. So beautiful!

JafaBrit's Art said...

There are three show opportunities coming up and I wanted to ask you if you are interested in them. Please contact me at:

Two are at the arts council gallery space (radical crafts show and quilt show) and one at the chamberpot gallery.
Regards Corrine

ROZ said...

I love that poem, one of my favorites