The Waste Land

The greatest poem in English. A poem I love teaching. I am fixed on my three favorite lines, where I always begin my teaching: 
  • April is the cruellest month
  •                                       so many / I had not thought death had undone so many
  • These fragments I have shored against my ruins
There are 32 of us reading the poem together this week. 31 have to write a paper on the poem. The students each posted their proposed passage to explicate on Blackboard yesterday and I find it fascinating just to look at which passages they chose. I never, for example, could have predicted the popularity of "The river's tent is broken." 

Here is the list (you'll note that a few of the 31 didn't get proposals in). I wonder what it says about us.

April is the cruellest month, breeding...tubers (lines 1-7)                         
What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow… (19-30) 
Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante...                         
Madame Sosotris, famous clairvoyante lines 43-59                      
Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante' (43-59)                        
Unreal City (60-76)                                                           
Unreal City (60 ff. )                                                           
Unreal city...                                                           
Leaned out, leaning, hushing the room enclosed. (106-138)                         
What is that noise? (117-132)                                     
What shall I do now? What shall I do? (130-39)                         
Now Albert's coming back, make yourself a bit smart                         
The river's tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf (173-181)                        
The river’s tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf… (173-186).                                    
The river’s tent is broken (173-86)                                    
The river’s tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf (173-186)                        
The time is now propitious, as he guesses (235-248)                         
The time is now propitious, as he guess,... (lines 235-250)                         
The meal is ended, she is bored and tired, (236-248)                   
She turns and looks a moment in the glass... (249-256).                  
She turns and looks a moment in the glass (249-56)                     
She turns and looks a moment in the glass (249 ff.)                        
Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead (312-321)                       
Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead (312-321)                       
Here is no water but only rock (331-345)                        
Datta: What have we given? (401-423)                                    

William Walton, Façade

I was listening to “Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin” on WQXR last night. This week, he’s featuring the music of William Walton. Here is how his website describes Walton & the programming for the week:
Inspired by a composer that was in the vanguard of British music in the 20th century, Benjamin Britten once wrote that hearing William Walton’s music was a “great turning point in his musical life.” We’ll trace the arc of Walton’s life and his associations with some of the greatest artists of his time.
Just before I turned in for the night, I heard him introduce “Façade” as a track that really captured the spirit of the 1920s—setting poems by the Sitwells to music. He said the whole thing sounds like a bunch of people who’ve gotten drunk on bathtub gin.

Well, the bathtub gin was in the US—there was no Prohibition in England—but I certainly agree that this is a trippy, drunken nutty piece.  The online playlist lists the 10 minute suite as containing the following sections:  
En Famille, 
Mariner Man, 
Long Steel Grass
,Through Gilded Trellises
,Tango – Pasodoble. It sounded to me like a mad mix of spoken word, Elgar and ragtime. You can buy the recording on Amazon or iTunes. I wish one of you would & would tell us what to think.