National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month.  I’m glad we still celebrate poetry in this day of ephemeral twittering.  W. H. Auden once described poetry as “memorable speech”.  As millions upon millions join in on-line chats, exchanging the most trivial of their everyday life unreservedly, and even addictively all day long, how we need poetry all the more, to create lines that strive for some memorable quality worthy of keeping.

The late Canadian communication guru Marshall McLuhan was right, the medium is the message.   And such is the message of our time.  Mind you, I’m no Luddite, my iPhone is evidence.  I’ve gone through this before, so I’m not going to dwell on it here again.  It’s just that the rash and temporal nature of our medium, and mode, for that matter,  make me long for quality and permanence.

After posting an excerpt of  T.S. Eliot’s poetry in my last entry, I just didn’t have enough.  I re-read and explored more of his work and was amazed at how prophetic his vision was.  To celebrate National Poetry Month, here’s Arti’s selections of  lines from the work of T.S. Eliot, just for our post-modern, Facebook and Twitter generation.


Twit twit twit

Jug jug “>jug jug jug jug jug

So rudely forc’d.

— The Waste Land (1922)

Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

— Ash Wednesday (1930)

There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;


Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all: —
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;


In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

— The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1915)

The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of The Word.

All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Brings us farther from God and nearer to the Dust.

— Choruses from The Rock (1934)


Visual: Nighthawks (1942) by Edward Hopper.  CLICK HERE FOR MORE EDWARD HOPPER.

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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

5 thoughts on “National Poetry Month”

  1. Arti, I love this!Eliot really gets things perfectly sometimes. “I have measured out my life in coffee spoons/So how should I presume?” is practically my mantra. Also, I’ll be posting an excerpt–not one of those cited here–that is scarily appropriate to a book I’m reading. Thanks for this; his reputation goes up and down, but the words…they are everything.


    I know Eliot can be too serious and somber for our day, a society that thrives on jokes, comedies, and entertainment. But during those rare and odd moments in reflective mode, one could still find his poetry relevant (if not more) in contemporary society. Thanks for your comment.



  2. I love the new look of Ripple Effects!

    Thanks for sharing!

    The header pic is default, nothing to do with ripples. But I like the panoramic view… it’ll work until I can find a better one. Thanks for stopping by.
    August 09 update: MM, the new header pic is Bow Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta… even the glacier mountain appears ripple-like.


  3. A different time, but still apt, amazingly so.

    What you said in your first paragraph is similar to something I said to a student recently. I was really bogged down in the economic downturn after a faculty meeting about budget cuts. I mean DIRE. Universities will not look the same. Well it took me about a day of talking with students to realize that we need art – including writing – now more than ever. The best writers have to put our angst into words. If we only have Twitter words to show for this time, while that may be as it should be since it’s the popular form of the moment, there are also those of us who want a deeper response – to write it and to read it.

    Nice to meet you at mine, and now here! Thanks for your nice comment.


    As I mentioned in some of my previous posts on slow blogging and solitude, I think there’s a definite connection between slow blogging, solitude, introspection, quality reading, quality writing… I’m glad there’s one more supporter out there. We may be striving against the tide and torrents of twittering, I’m sure at the end of the day, everyone needs to face oneself in quietness and reflection…. The pendulum will swing back.

    Thanks for your comment. I trust this is the beginning of some mutual visiting.



  4. Thank you, thank you for this wonderful post and celebrating NaPoMo! Now I’ll have to explore T. S. Eliot next! I am sometimes saddened by the lack of interest in poetry in the general population, and wonder if poetry will still be read in a generation or two. It was not too long ago when I myself had no interest in poetry–I thought poetry was too inaccessible to me. I am now still surprised that I now even commit my favorite poems to memory. Poetry is not inaccessible after all, but is a wonderful rush of emotions. So much can be said and understood in just a few lines.

    As for twitter, I find the current state of the rapid transformation and re-definition of its use and purpose interesting. It has definitely morphed in a big way from its original intent. I think part of the reason people are attracted to it is because of the desire to resist and counter isolation, which in turn is partly caused by the comforts and independence we enjoy in a modern society. It is interesting and ironic. One sends out a tweet, and the hope is that there is at least another out there silently listening even without replying. It is a little sad.


    To keep the creative and poetic juice flowing while twittering, I think it’ll be great to turn tweets into poetry. Hey, that’s a thought! I’m sure lots can be done with 140 characters! Somebody should start this post-modern renaissance!



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