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Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

Winter kept us warm, covering…

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2012 at 10:56 pm

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…

Eliot goes on to offer his barren images in The Waste Land, 1922. Having just finished Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness the motifs feel familiar. They pop-up elsewhere as early 20th century themes from Orwell to Huxley to Kafka. Conrad’s Marlow journeys deep into the interior of Imperial European Africa and discovers Kurtz is at the heart of Empire, and he’s not the noble figure from our European Belle Époque. Eliot’s Gerontion talks of the dry month. The seasons and landscape are dry or wet, decaying or budding.  Nature’s cycle pepper Eliot’s work. Bones, stones and deserts in the ‘heart of your brother’, ‘in the tube-train next to you’ (Choruses from ‘The Rock’, 1934) suggest the tensions in political seasons around faltering industries, new uncertainties of ‘our’ place in the world.

Marlow’s journey into the interior was repeated by Orwell’s descent into the mines. This was pre-welfare-state world, a world of ‘irregular labour, which is not pleasant’ (The Rock). Heavy industries couldn’t bend their die-caste-moulds or die-caste-working-practices to a free-market. The shift is then of Greatness slipping. The Rock on which Greatness was built were certainties of economy and the sacred. Work in the week; church on Sunday. The slip was fostered by a realisation that ‘there is no life that is not in community’ (The Rock).

The Desert: Eliot appears to scorn ignorance of the seasons in economy and life as in nature. The void of the wasteland offers its opportunity for creation.

Eliot reveals then that April is coming but it’s quite different from our expectation. The winter months forced us into community. The ease of regular living meant we avoided each other ‘in the tube-train’ but there is in fact a quality in austere winters. It’s suggested it will be missed if we don’t see the barren landscape in its healthy bleakness as a useful necessary decay. Industries and economies and churches need to ‘forever build, decay and restore’ he seems to implore. The Rock suggests truly ‘Daring enterprise’ builds community and economy but Eliot seems to be after a harmony in building, a rhythm of activity.

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