Hyperpat\’s HyperDay

SF, science, and daily living

Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season

Posted by hyperpat on July 29, 2008

Anytime you want to be depressed, open up your T.S. Eliot. Very shortly the dark clouds will appear, the sun’s light bulb will dim with shadows, you will crouch on your couch , and his words will rasp across your flickering synapses.

Our dried voices, when

We whisper together

Are quiet and meaningless

As wind in dry grass

Or rat’s feet over broken glass

In our dry cellar

There are images in his work that are indelible. I can’t think of any other wordsmith, either in prose or poetry, who’s work is so immediate, concrete, and harrowing.

I should have been a pair of ragged claws

Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

Loneliness, dying, alienation, old melancholy memories, futility, questions of purpose, unrequited love – they’re all here, and more besides.

April is the cruelest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

He’s far from easy to totally understand, but many times that’s not necessary, as his imagery alone will transport you to his world, leave you trapped inside his metaphors and similes, force upon you a dark, grimy, and bleak outlook.

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

I was first introduced to Eliot in a high school English class with The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, and for all the other great works of literature that class ruined for me with all the nit-picking and frequently missing-the-point analysis, this one captured me, made me see just what great poetry was capable of. I’ve read many other poets since, but I keep coming back to this man’s work as shining examples of what speaks to me. I just wish I was one one-hundredth of the poet he was.

Footfalls echo in the memory

Down the passage which we did not take

Towards the door we never opened

Into the rose-garden. My words echo

Thus, in your mind.

3 Responses to “Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season”

  1. Peter said

    Yes, I quite agree about Elliot. One of my favorite sci-fi authors – Iain M. banks qoutes from him extensively through the titles of his stories – like ‘Consider Phlebas’, ‘Look to Windward’ – all qoutes from ‘Wasteland’.

  2. hyperpat said

    Oddly enough, “The Wasteland” is the one of his I don’t particularly care for, other than its impeccable opening quoted above, and certain crystal images within it. Perhaps it’s the length, perhaps the complexity, perhaps the apparent wandering all over the landscape of thoughts, scenes, and ideas, perhaps it’s the constant allusions that you really need to have an annotation guidebook beside you while reading it to catch even a tenth of what he’s referring to and driving at, but it just doesn’t grab me the way some of his others do, even though many consider it to be his greatest work.

    “The Hollow Men”, “Burnt Norton”, “Ash Wednesday”, “Gerontion”, and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” are probably my favorites.

  3. Hey, cool tips. Perhaps I’ll buy a bottle of beer to the man from that forum who told me to go to your blog🙂

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