Friday, June 5, 2015

#FridayReads: T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland" #amreading #poetry

Recently someone asked me what I thought the best horror/fantasy poems were out there and I must admit I was totally stumped. While I rectefy that by quickly expanding my knowledge of great SFF poetry, I do want to share what my first gut reaction was to the question: "T.S. Eliot's 'The Wasteland'". It is a beautiful, apocalytic poem if I ever read one. And if you haven't, you need to read it yourself as soon as possible.

Here's the first section (it's roughly a 14-page poem) to start you off:


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         5
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,  10
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,  15
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. 
 
What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow 
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,  20
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only 
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats, 
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief, 
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only 
There is shadow under this red rock,  25
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock), 
And I will show you something different from either 
Your shadow at morning striding behind you 
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you; 
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.  30
        Frisch weht der Wind 
        Der Heimat zu, 
        Mein Irisch Kind, 
        Wo weilest du? 
“You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;  35
They called me the hyacinth girl.” 
—Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden, 
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not 
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither 
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,  40
Looking into the heart of light, the silence. 
Öd’ und leer das Meer. 
 
Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante, 
Had a bad cold, nevertheless 
Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,  45
With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she, 
Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor, 
(Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!) 
Here is Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks, 
The lady of situations.  50
Here is the man with three staves, and here the Wheel, 
And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card, 
Which is blank, is something he carries on his back, 
Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find 
The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.  55
I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring. 
Thank you. If you see dear Mrs. Equitone, 
Tell her I bring the horoscope myself: 
One must be so careful these days. 
 
Unreal City,  60
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn, 
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many, 
I had not thought death had undone so many. 
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled, 
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.  65
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street, 
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours 
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine. 
There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying “Stetson! 
You who were with me in the ships at Mylae!  70
That corpse you planted last year in your garden, 
Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year? 
Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed? 
Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men, 
Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again!  75
You! hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable,—mon frère!”

Well, don't stop now. Read the rest.

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