The Waste Land Revisited
Correction. Perhaps April is not the cruellest month.
A first line to shock, give a jolt.
A reference to Chaucer some cottoned on to.
Began his Canterbury Tales with a celebration of April.
Done to death, celebrations of spring.
Thought I’d surprise them, shock them,
saying April is the cruellest month.
Why? readers might ask. Had them then. It led them in.
I the spirit of Thomas Stearns Eliot rise from my chair.
I feel light. The body was an inconvenience. Mystics knew.
Wonder what it will be like out there?
London. Not like it was in the 1920’s when I wrote what I did.
The bridge remains. Will not see Stetson. Long gone with the others.
I enter a pub. Listen. Attend to the talk, gain inspiration, as I did then.
What is it that thuds in the corner? Infernal jukebox.
The prince sits alone with his glass,
intent on internal reveries.
It does not matter. This will pass.
None of them got it, those that reviewed, lectured.
It was just the way I felt at the time. That they would not have.
Despite all the allusions, fragments in other tongues,
the need for notes, a guide, that is all it was.
If I had been in a better mood, it would have been different.
I dwelt on weeds, dry, cracked stone, burnt craters.
Could have been a grass mower, seed planter.
What’s done is done, however. You cannot go back.
The track is lost.
I stroll to Bloomsbury. It is, as expected, still there.
Traffic taller, longer. More fumes, noise. Not just the odd toot.
Must come from somewhere, cannot go nowhere.
I try again to connect nothing with nothing.
Bowler hatted businessmen walk by,
look straight ahead at their own affairs.
One of them is an actor, playing the part.
Which one? An old game I play.
Once I stepped with them, always dressed smart,
first as a bank worker, then as a publisher.
It comes back to me at times, my poem.
The Waste Land, I called it. Turned out to be my most famous work.
Earned me respect, even awe, in some quarters.
A literary work is not to be taken literally,
a load so heavy lightly.
Look down there, on the canal bank. I do not fish,
the gas house behind me.
No use going further. No boat waits on the shore.
Still the same chill. I open the door.