I recently finished reading an encyclopedia on C. S. Lewis, and I am overtaken with love for all things literary at the moment. Words are so beautiful – I could talk about their beauty all day long. I am forever grateful that God chose to reveal Himself through writing as well as in person. Because words lend themselves to pondering, to images, to thoughts and to creation.
C. S. Lewis was not a fan of “modern literature” so it is rather ironic that what I am about to share is my love for one of T. S. Eliot’s poems. T. S. Eliot was a very modern poet, and when I use that word, I mean ‘modern’ style, not that he is a contemporary writer. The modern style can be jarring. It puts onus on the reader to interpret, to come up with meaning, and to analyse.
But look at these words friends, and the liquid pictures they create! What is not to love?
Below are excerpts only – I encourage you to read the entire poem. It greatly influenced the song ‘Memory’ from the musical CATS.
RHAPSODY ON A WINDY NIGHT – T. S. ELIOT
Along the reaches of the street
Held in a lunar synthesis,
Whispering lunar incantations
Dissolve the floors of memory
And all its clear relations,
Its divisions and precisions,
Every street lamp that I pass
Beats like a fatalistic drum,
And through the spaces of the dark
Midnight shakes the memory
As a madman shakes a dead geranium…
The memory throws up high and dry
A crowd of twisted things;
A twisted branch upon the beach
Eaten smooth, and polished
As if the world gave up
The secret of its skeleton,
Stiff and white.
A broken spring in a factory yard,
Rust that clings to the form that the strength has left
Hard and curled and ready to snap…
The lamp hummed:
“Regard the moon,
La lune ne garde aucune rancune,
She winks a feeble eye,
She smiles into corners.
She smoothes the hair of the grass.
The moon has lost her memory.
A washed-out smallpox cracks her face,
Her hand twists a paper rose,
That smells of dust and old Cologne,
She is alone
With all the old nocturnal smells
That cross and cross across her brain.” …
The lamp said,
Here is the number on the door.
You have the key,
The little lamp spreads a ring on the stair,
The bed is open; the tooth-brush hangs on the wall,
Put your shoes at the door, sleep, prepare for life.”
The last twist of the knife.