Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ash Wednesday

So, I read poetry. So, I like Eliot. The present is flawed, but, I don’t look for a “lost illusory Eden.” Elegance after all, need not be reflective. Poetry need not be Byronic. Wednesdays need not be ashen. Sometimes, I think that there is an irrevocable sadness in Eliot’s poetry. Despair.

I have been going through the poems of Wendy Cope. Today, I stumbled across a gem. It is a parody of Eliot’s “Ash Wednesday.”

Here is the poem by Eliot.

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the agèd eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessèd face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

I have always felt that “Ash Wednesday” is not a poem. It is so much more. It is an incantation. And yet, it is shattering. It is a confession. It is an old man’s plea in the wake of death. He tried to be somebody else. In the end, he had to confront who he was. Who was he? He never found out.

Here is the parody by Wendy Cope. It made my day. It is called “A Nursey Rhyme.”

Because time will not run backwards
Because time
Because time will not run
Hickory dickory

In the last minute of the first hour
I saw the mouse ascend the ancient timepiece,
Claws whispering like wind in dry hyacinths.

One o'clock,
The street lamp said,
'Remark the mouse that races toward the carpet.'

And the unstilled wheel still turning
Hickory dickory
Hickory dickory
Hickory dickory dock.

PS: It seems that I was wrong. There are some very well read people in the college.


Sushant said...

Why don't you and the other very-well-read people you've come across together try to come up with a college magazine or something? The last time I saw one coming out was in 2005, which wasn't even all that good if you ask me. It would be great having one again, a better one actually.

Aarushi said...

That is a great idea. But, I catch the sarcasm in your tone. That's ok.
We are brainstorming about starting a book club. There are also talks about the initiation of a literary society. The book club will discuss serious literature. I am not too sure about the lit soc yet.

Sushant said...

Oh, the sarcasm was unintended. But it did appear so to me too after I wrote it down, but then I left it as it was. Anyway, the reason I wrote about it was that I could help getting some of the administrative glitches in the process sorted out, or also get some funds from the college for this purpose.

Aarushi said...

Thanks! All the help that you can give us would be great. Let's take this forward in the college.