“THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD (Canto 1)
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the archduke’s,
My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.”
The beauty of the poem is the inter-woven rhythms drawn largely from
different myths of oriental as well as occidental cultures.The lyrical
beauty of the poem is not allowed to be distracted by the
obscure-sounding classical references.”in the mountains there you feel free” is hauntingly beautiful.”I read much of the night and go south in the winter”- the usage captivated us so much when we were College students.The juxtaposition of two situations in different time frames (I read ,much of the night-a shorter time frame :juxtaposed with “go South in the winter”-a longer time frame) is a clever use.
“Mary,Mary ,hold on tight” is almost onamatopaeic ,suggestive of the speed of the sled as it hurtles down.
“April is the cruellest month/Breeding lilacs out of the dead land/Mixing memory and desire” is almost Shakespearean and anticipates the impossibility of regeneration out of death that comes much later in the poem:
“Stetson,you who were with me at Mylae/That corpse you planted last year/Has it sprouted?Will it bloom this year?