Our Current Issue
Volume XXVII | Issue 2 | 2014
From "Blindness, War, and History" (p. 80)
by Tim Miller
I often wondered why the poet T. S. Eliot said, in the beginning of The Waste Land, that April was the “cruellest month.” It seemed the heart of winter would fit better, when the world is actually dying and darkening, rather than spring, when youth and growth rise above death.
Then I remembered that the poem was written in the aftermath of World War I, and that Eliot dedicated his first book of poetry to a friend and soldier, Jean Verdenal, who was killed at the Dardanelles. Eliot’s brother-in-law, Maurice Haigh-Wood, also served in the war, and some of the images from The Waste Land are taken from his experiences—the lines about being “in rats’ alley / Where the dead men lost their bones” (Eliot, Poems 57, ll. 115-116) refer to the enormous rats encountered in the trenches (Eliot, Letters 132).
And even if Eliot did not specifically mean this, I was reminded that, for most of history, spring has traditionally been the start of the military campaigning season (the month of March, after all, was named for Mars, the Roman god of war). And as the campaign coincided with the agricultural round from planting to harvesting (spring to fall), it seems simple enough to say that the soldier knows why April might be cruel, since for many of them it is the time when youth and growth, for all their strength, begin their advance towards death.
About Concho River Review
Begun by novelist and short-story writer Dr. Terry Dalrymple in 1986, Concho River Review is a biannual literary journal published by the Department of English and Modern Languages at Angelo State University. Since its inception, CRR has prided itself on publishing some of the finest short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from both emerging and established authors. Although originally designed as a forum for Texas writers, over the years its reach and interests have extended well beyond Texas and the Southwest.