Memory… #TSEliot … And reflexive conversations lost in time 


Comic strip by me by the way. Circa 1993.
As the rest of the world probably already knew, but what came to me as news this morning, when Elaine Page sang ‘Memory’ in the Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, Cats, she was singing words inspired by T.S.Eliot’s poetry. I realised it as soon as I read Eliot’s Rhapsody on a Windy Night, and then googled it to confirm my hunch. 
If you fancy hearing / seeing Elaine P sing that again, here it is on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqx3LDawgS8&feature=share 
I love reflexivity between authors and genres. It’s like a cultural conversation that carries on through time. Someone says something in 1917, and then decades later someone else sings a response on Broadway. Also, it made me laugh to then read how a parody had been made for the O J Simpson trial: “Midnight, on my way to Chicago, chasing me in my Bronco on the streets of L. A….”
Can you use a few lines from the poem to be inspired to write your own version? Parody or otherwise? 
The original poem below. 
T.S.Eliot, PRUFROCK and Other Observations, 1917
Rhapsody on a Windy Night
TWELVE o’clock.

Along the reaches of the street

Held in a lunar synthesis,

Whispering lunar incantations

Dissolve the floors of memory

And all its clear relations

Its divisions and precisions,

Every street lamp that I pass

Beats like a fatalistic drum,

And through the spaces of the dark

Midnight shakes the memory

As a madman shakes a dead geranium.
 

Half-past one,

The street lamp sputtered,

The street lamp muttered,

The street lamp said, “Regard that woman

Who hesitates toward you in the light of the door

Which opens on her like a grin.

You see the border of her dress

Is torn and stained with sand,

And you see the corner of her eye

Twists like a crooked pin.”
 

The memory throws up high and dry

A crowd of twisted things;

A twisted branch upon the beach

Eaten smooth, and polished

As if the world gave up

The secret of its skeleton,

Stiff and white.

A broken spring in a factory yard,

Rust that clings to the form that the strength has left

Hard and curled and ready to snap.
 

Half-past two,

The street-lamp said,

“Remark the cat which flattens itself in the gutter,

Slips out its tongue

And devours a morsel of rancid butter.”

So the hand of the child, automatic,

Slipped out and pocketed a toy that was running along the quay.

I could see nothing behind that child’s eye.

I have seen eyes in the street

Trying to peer through lighted shutters,

And a crab one afternoon in a pool,

An old crab with barnacles on his back,

Gripped the end of a stick which I held him.

        

 

Half-past three,

The lamp sputtered,

The lamp muttered in the dark.

The lamp hummed:

“Regard the moon,

La lune ne garde aucune rancune,

She winks a feeble eye,

She smiles into corners.

She smooths the hair of the grass.

The moon has lost her memory.

A washed-out smallpox cracks her face,

Her hand twists a paper rose,

That smells of dust and old Cologne,

She is alone

With all the old nocturnal smells

That cross and cross across her brain.

The reminiscence comes

Of sunless dry geraniums

And dust in crevices,

Smells of chestnuts in the streets,

And female smells in shuttered rooms,

And cigarettes in corridors

And cocktail smells in bars.”
 

The lamp said,

“Four o’clock,

Here is the number on the door.

Memory!

You have the key,

The little lamp spreads a ring on the stair,

Mount.

The bed is open; the tooth-brush hangs on the wall,

Put your shoes at the door, sleep, prepare for life.”
The last twist of the knife.
 

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