Guest Post Featuring Franscud

Blog Site: Caught In The Stream


Dated: Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Not wasting a chance to reference T.S. Eliot

Today marks the 119th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Stearns Eliot, the great modernist poet and dramatist probably best remembered for his controversial work The Waste Land. Published in 1922 and arising out of the devastation of World War I, many associate the poem with a post-bellum European mood of despair and a sense of societal spiritual decay. Hidden in the complex verse is a seed of hope, however; one that I too try to grasp in our own time of overwhelming cynicism.

There is much about life in 21st century America that makes me imagine a wasted future: Our economy mired in fossil-fueled denial; Our resources consumed by endless war; Our fears stoked in hate filled fantasies; Our rights eroded by violence addicted leaders; Our minds undone by our own indifference; Our souls corrupted by false righteousness.

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.
(Lines 19-30)
Within that seemingly barren context, though, there is a real possibility for change and growth. Our fatalistic attitudes lag behind the pace of positive social developments; feeling alienated, isolated, and alone behind our self-built prison walls we are blind to the new empowering opportunities for connection, belonging and shared experience. For within the dying carcass of old habits grows the germ of a new idea. By casting aside our former modes of seeing, we can envision a new world sprouting through the cracked and arid earth.
In this decayed hole among the mountains
In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing
Over the tumbled graves, about the chapel
There is the empty chapel, only the wind's home.
It has no windows, and the door swings,
Dry bones can harm no one.
Only a cock stood on the rooftree
Co co rico co co rico
In a flash of lightning. Then a damp gust
Bringing rain
(Lines 385-394)


Click here to see the full text of the poem


Originally Written and Posted by franscud

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