April is National Poetry Month. I’m glad we still celebrate poetry in this day of ephemeral twittering. W. H. Auden once described poetry as “memorable speech”. As millions upon millions join in on-line chats, exchanging the most trivial of their everyday life unreservedly, and even addictively all day long, how we need poetry all the more, to create lines that strive for some memorable quality worthy of keeping.
The late Canadian communication guru Marshall McLuhan was right, the medium is the message. And such is the message of our time. Mind you, I’m no Luddite, my iPhone is evidence. I’ve gone through this before, so I’m not going to dwell on it here again. It’s just that the rash and temporal nature of our medium, and mode, for that matter, make me long for quality and permanence.
After posting an excerpt of T.S. Eliot’s poetry in my last entry, I just didn’t have enough. I re-read and explored more of his work and was amazed at how prophetic his vision was. To celebrate National Poetry Month, here’s Arti’s selections of lines from the work of T.S. Eliot, just for our post-modern, Facebook and Twitter generation.
Twit twit twit
Jug jug “>jug jug jug jug jug
So rudely forc’d.
— The Waste Land (1922)
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.
— Ash Wednesday (1930)
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
For I have known them all already, known them all: —
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
— The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1915)
The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of The Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Brings us farther from God and nearer to the Dust.
— Choruses from The Rock (1934)
Visual: Nighthawks (1942) by Edward Hopper. CLICK HERE FOR MORE EDWARD HOPPER.