Friday, March 20, 2009

Vernal Equinox: I Will Show You Fear in a Handful of Dust

Spring today.  Although I love spring, all I can think about is this poem, "The Waste Land," and the first section. I think I'll just revel a little in my cloud of black gloom and existential angst.

You can read and if you like, go listen to Eliot himself reading in his evil little voice--but trust me, it grows on you:

T.S. Eliot reading "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
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.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
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,
(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.
Frisch weht der Wind
Der Heimat zu.
Mein Irisch Kind,
Wo weilest du?
'You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
'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,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
Od' und leer das Meer.

photo from Flickr Creative Commons, by Two Stout Monks


Megan said...

love Eliot

Suzanne said...

Absolutely beautiful.

kylie said...

a couple of posts back you asked if i talked with my kids about kiss tag. i didnt after reading cos it was before school but i have since. none of them have ever given or received a kiss (of that type)
none of them seem overly interested . i never played it but i was pretty much a loner so i just thought it was me.


kylie said...

i really am terrible with poetry but i do especially like the end of this

Jimmy Bastard said...

"They called me the hyacinth girl."

Tis funny that... especially as we all have a precious little flower that we enjoy so much.

You would be the orchid girl.

Fragrant, with a dark side, and absolutely sublime.

kylie said...

oh my goodness
i would probably pay for that bastard to visit my blog

Auntie, aka cagny said...

good morning from the bronx,
every time i visit your blog, i wonder "where does leah ever find the time to study?".
i can only thank God i got all my degrees before i stumbled upon blogging.
I'm not big on poetry.
but i am big on reading nonfiction.
and blogs.

Leah said...

Megan--me too, me three.

Suzy--it is, isn't it? gloomy and beautiful.

Kylie--I never played anything like kiss tag at that age either. I was too busy thinking about imaginary kisses with Mr. Spock.

Leah said...

Jimmy Bastard--your little notes are the sort that, were they written on scraps of paper, a girl would tie together with a bit of ribbon and keep in a special cigar box with her other secret, happy mementos...

Kylie--I know, right? Don't you have a little crush on him? He's very nice.

Leah said...

and p.s., Kylie, the other secret is that he's a staggeringly good writer--go check his blog--

Leah said...

Auntie--nah, it's not my blog keeping me from my studies, it's the mothering, wifing, and worrying that does it--

MJ said...

I need Mago to translate the German bits.

Leah said...

MJ--actually, me too.

just bob said...

My feet are cold.

Leah said...

Oh Bob--socks will come to you, all in good time--

Anonymous said...

The only Eliot i have read is 'the journey of the magi'...which has so much in it.

Mmmmm- there is a lot here too. it is rather melancholy :( I don't know what it means(!) but it reminds me of holocaust :(

Suzanne said...

Re T.S. Eliot's "The Wastland ~ translation:

The wind's fresh
To the Homeland
My Irish Girl
Where are you lingering?

In addition, I gathered this from Google:

Frisch weht der Wind...Wo weilest du? (l.31-34): Eliot's note: V.[ide] [see] Tristan and Isolde, I, verses 5-8. The lines mean: "Fresh blows the wind to the homeland, my Irish child, where do you tarry."

It is sung in Wagner's opera by a sailor who thinks about his beloved.

That should help you and MJ and I think my effort is worthy of a gorgeous pair of hand knitted socks!!!

XOXOXOXOXO! Had so much fun at the Wild Onion. Good job and thanks.


P.S. Hope you're feeling better today.

Candie Bracci said...

Lovely poem.

Hyacinth's perfume is just divine,all flowers are divine!

Have a great weekend

Cece said...

I love the photo, and I love the poem, and I love you!!!. So much so that I gave you an award on my blog. Now if I could just win a pair of socks. LOL.

kylie said...

he is a spectacular writer

am i allowed to have a crush on him as well as maithri??

Suzanne said...

Back to check on you. You know I worry! I see all our friends are here so you're in good hands. Just so you know, I ate an apple about 10 minutes ago. I love my new fruit bowl. It's a keeper!
I've eaten more apples in the past few weeks than I've eaten in a year because of my new fruit bowl. Seriously.

Congrats on your award.

Like Kylie, I have a crush on Maithri, but I'm not going to go rushing out into the streets of Brooklyn to play kiss-tag like Heggie because Kylie's already won. I'm not his type!!! Some consolation...Kylie's not his type either, he's married!!!!! Oh, that's right, I don't live in Brooklyn either. I've been robbed!

Hope you had a good day dear.

Much love,

kylie said...

of course i'm his type

(Not-So) Cynical Gal said...

love that poem. seriously amazing.

I nominated you for a cutesie award...come over and check it out.

Brian Miller said...

beautiful pic! love the poetry as well..eliot fan!

Brandy Rose said...

I like the lil twist he puts on Spring.

Leah said...

Cinnamon--I love the "Journey of the Magi" very much. "The Waste Land" is, in its entirety, interminably long with a gazillion obscure references and passages in other languages. But I still love it too...


Candie--I adore the fragrance of hyacinth.

Cece--thank you so very much doll!

Kylie--certainly you are!

Suzy and Kylie--lol!


Brian--glad to see another Eliot fan! I've adored his poetry since I first read it in high school. Especially the "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."

Brandy Rose--me too. I like the gloom and introspection of it--Spring really can be very melancholy indeed.

just bob said...

Hi Leah!

Suzanne said...

Suzy to Kylie...Knock it off, he's married and in Africa by now. If you aren't planning to vacation in Africa this summer, good luck with that. Oh, and did I mention doll, he's married. Well, if I didn't. He's married. Oh, and dare I mention you're married with 4 kids, a number of pets, a house and a Volvo. You do drive a Volvo, right? I distinctly remember a Volvo. Have I missed something!!! Oh right. I missed me! Yes, I love him too, but I'm too complicated for a doctor. Hell, I'm too complicated for my lawyer hubby!!! It's true, I'm not his type. It's true you are. Just like Leah is Jimmy's type, but what are the chances? One in a million???!! Good luck with that.

XO ;)

P.S. Sorry Leah, I just had to. I love her too much to let her suffer!

Leah said...

Hi Bob

Suzy--crushes are just crushes. What's life without a crush or two? I mean, another for instance, what would I do without my darling Potions Master? Sarge has learned to put up with Severus. It makes him laugh. And I love to keep my hubby entertained...

Anonymous said...

"coming over the Starnbergersee"
Lake of Starnberg in the area "before the Alps" (Alpenvorland), oh yeah what a romantic place, a king was (s)hot there (Ludwig II. of Bavaria), the Schwanenritter was traveling there ...
(I hate the area.)

"Bin gar keine Russin, stamm' aus Litauen, echt deutsch"
I am no Russian woman, I come from Lithuania, real German
(At this point I have no real idea about Eliot's intention. It is of course a reference to the idea of being German, and all the concepts of "race" that swing with it - but again, I have no idea how the poet uses this references here).

the archduke's
The Erzherzog - the children of the Habsburgian Kaiser - that is NOT the Prussian, German Kaiser! - got different ranks - as it is still with the British monarchy, Charles is Duke of Whatever, don't know. The children of the last Austrian emperor died, one by one, the last was killed in Sarajevo and WWI broke out. This last emperor was a really tragic figure. It is of course a reference to th time before the First World War, fin de siecle and all that.

Frisch weht der Wind
Der Heimat zu.
Mein Irisch Kind,
Wo weilest du?
Suzanne has already given it. A reference to Wagner, I can not really explain that "wo weilest du?" and have no idea what the English translations express. I prefer to go for the simple solution - it's just "where are you" in Wagnerian trallala - that bloke is unable to say something simple, jaja it's of no use here, but Wagner is just talmi. Go and translate. And if you understand what I say you may have a key to Adolf.

Od' und leer das Meer.
ÖD und leer ist das Meer.
Goethe. Yeah, does not be left out here ...
wa ha aretz dingsbums tohu wa bohu, öd und leer, you know this, it's a long time since I learned it, forgot the verbum:
The sea was empty! Mighty empty!
Goethe did two famous poems about "Meeres(s)tille".
Fear in a handful of dust? You bet. Fearful things in a few lines ... that sucker is intelligent.

Leah said...

Thank you dear mago!

kylie said...

i'm complicated too but thats what makes me interesting!
he's not in africa yet,a week or so to go, that gives me a wee bit of time.......