Friday, April 30, 2010

Poetry and songs

I graduated from high school in 1965, and at the time I was too young and dumb to appreciated the wonderful music that was in the air. The Beatles (do I have to name a tune?), Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone," Simon and Garfunkel's "Sound of Silence," the Rolling Stone's "Satisfaction," etc. etc.

Which reminds me about a call I got today from a friend commenting on my recent post about T.S. Eliot and April being the cruelest month.

Basically, he reminded me that he "hates poetry." He saw poets as some kind of weird people.

I asked him if he hated John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Paul Simon . (His age group.) He actually thought about it. Some success!

Playing in the background near my computer now is another - 1970s - take on the month of April by Paul Simon. On an album from Simon and Garfunckel from that time, stuck between songs called "A Most Peculiar Man" and "We've Got a Groovy Thing Going," was a song with its own, but similar, take on the month of April.

It starts:

"April come she will
When streams are ripe and swelled with rain
May, she will stay,
Resting in my arms again."

The song goes on, month after month, to record the end of the love affair in September:

"A love once new has now grown old."

Simon, who recently had borrowed from a famous poem to write his memorable song "Richard Cory," had to have been thinking about the cruelest month in order to start his song. In fact, I think, Eliot's poem "The Waste Lane" was foremost in his mind.

But Eliot's other most famous poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" is as much loved as "The Waste Land" is not. Of course it is too long be a popular song, and its stream-of-consciousness narrative is not exactly a Cole Porter air, but hey, as you read it, think how Lennon, McCartney, or Simon might have sung it. A "Richard Cory," without the suicide ... not quite. A poem not all that different from a sound of silence.

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