“April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.”
T.S. Eliot, “The Wasteland”
Surely one of the most debated and notorious poems in the literature. The density of allusions and the sharp shifts in tense and focus are unsettling. This is a classic poetry class study poem – find the DIM within its sonnets. But even without teasing out the allusions, even without sorting out the myriad voices, there is lyricism and sensibility. The opening stanza itself foreshadows the mixed emotions of memory.
For personal reasons of loss, April was always a difficult time for me, so this opening line rang true from my first reading. I still visit The Wasteland infrequently and find more gems in its turbulent writing.