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Favorite Poem

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7/11/2016 7:31:09 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/11/2016 4:40:42 PM, Danielle wrote:
Post your favorite poem. Why does it resonate with you?

Far and away 'The Waste Land', by T. S. Eliot. It's a form of mature conservatism, and captures perfectly the slow descent of the West from a functioning society bound by pious fiction and comforting illusion, like most societies, to one in which the pursuit of 'truth' and the resulting iconoclasm had completely eroded societal cohesion and ultimately lead to a widespread sense of numb anomie. It is also intensely personalized, as Eliot's incredibly close friend had recently been killed fighting in Turkey during WWI, so the fact that his own personal world seemed divested of light intensified the characterization of the larger social organism. Eliot once described the poem as an 'elegy', and if so it is one to both Jean Verdenal and Western society in general. It has a lot of great parts, but probably my favorites are the ending, the beginning of A Game of Chess, Death By Water, the opening, and the witnessing of the typist's affair by Tiresias in The Fire Sermon. This is that last part:

"At the violet hour, when the eyes and back
Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits
Like a taxi throbbing waiting,
I Tiresias, though blind, throbbing between two lives,
Old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see
At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives
Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea,
The typist home at tea-time, clears her breakfast, lights
Her stove, and lays out food in tins.
Out of the window perilously spread
Her drying combinations touched by the sun's last rays,
On the divan are piled (at night her bed)
Stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays.
I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs
Perceived the scene, and foretold the rest--
I too awaited the expected guest.
He, the young man carbuncular, arrives,
A small house-agent's clerk, with one bold stare,
One of the low on whom assurance sits
As a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire.
The time is now propitious, as he guesses,
The meal is ended, she is bored and tired,
Endeavours to engage her in caresses
Which still are unreproved, if undesired.
Flushed and decided, he assaults at once;
Exploring hands encounter no defence;
His vanity requires no response,
And makes a welcome of indifference.
(And I Tiresias have foresuffered all
Enacted on this same divan or bed;
I who have sat by Thebes below the wall
And walked among the lowest of the dead.)
Bestows one final patronizing kiss,
And gropes his way, finding the stairs unlit...

She turns and looks a moment in the glass,
Hardly aware of her departed lover;
Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass:
'Well now that's done: and I'm glad it's over.'
When lovely woman stoops to folly and
Paces about her room again, alone,
She smoothes her hair with automatic hand,
And puts a record on the gramophone."
"Partout ou vous verrez un autel, la se trouve la civilisation."
- Joseph de Maistre -

"Woe that I live in bitter days,
As God is setting like a sun
And in his place, as lord and slave,
Man raises forth his heinous throne."
- Translation of 'Rhyfel', by Hedd Wyn -

Virtutem videant intabescantque relicta

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