Breeding Lilacs Out of the Dead Land

Do you find yourself holding your breath when April comes?

Cruel, cruel, cruel.  God.  This week, especially.

April 14, April 19th and 19th again, April 20th, and now April 16th.

26 thoughts on “Breeding Lilacs Out of the Dead Land

  1. No, this is not nature at work. This is not that same kind of cruelty. This is … I don’t know what. But not what nature wants.

  2. I always assumed talking about lilacs in April was a nod to Whitman, who, when talking about them, says:

    I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them,
    And the white skeletons of young men, I saw them,
    I saw the debris and debris of all the dead soldiers of the war,
    But I saw they were not as was thought,
    They themselves were fully at rest, they suffer’d not,
    The living remain’d and suffer’d, the mother suffer’d,
    And the wife and the child and the musing comrade suffer’d,
    And the armies that remain’d suffer’d.

  3. I’m with B. I’ve always understood the reference to the lilacs to be an ode to Whitman, whose ode to Lincoln’s death (April 14/15th) was partially in When Lilacs Last in the Door-Yard Bloom’d.

    As far as the “handful of dust”, I’ve always interpreted that line to be a reference to the corrupt nature of Mankind. Who is, after all, created from a handful of dust.

    As for this tragedy going beyond nature, I don’t think so. I think it is the darker part of nature. As I said over at NiT, it’s a rabidity of the soul. Evil things find a home in nature, too.

  4. Well, sucks to be the one to break this news to you, Mag, but some evil fucker opened fire at Virgina Tech and killed at least 21 people before killing himself. In what is sure to be the controversy of the incident, it’s my understanding that he killed one person in the dorms at about seven this morning, and then disappeared for two hours, arrived at a classroom building and just started firing into rooms. The university wasn’t locked down after the initial incident, for some reason, thus leaving him free to embark on the second wave of shooting and students in his way like sitting ducks.

  5. This is horrible and you are right, bad things seem to happen in April. I know what the two 19th and the 20th are, but what does the 14th reference?

  6. The 14th of April is Ruination Day, as Gillian Welch put it–Lincoln’s assassination, the sinking of the Titanic, and Black Sunday, when 20 “black blizzards” hit in the Dust Bowl.

  7. Thanks and shame on me for not thinking of the Titanic, being in Nova Scotia and all. There were memorials and displays going on all weekend around here. I guess I was trying to come up with something that happened in more recent years.

  8. Well, and if you’re not looking for things that had a negative impact on primarily U.S. citizens, the 20th is also Hitler’s birthday.

  9. I honestly don’t know what to think or say or feel about this.
    To say it’s horrible is almost an understatement.
    And now the count is at 31.
    I just need to process this.

  10. I can’t imagine how the campus must feel right now.

    Malia Carden, a blogger friend of ours is an alumna who has many friends and family on the campus. She’s now heard from them and they’re shaken but okay.

    She seems pretty torn up about the whole thing. I can’t even fathom what it must be like.

    I wish they wouldn’t release death tolls until they have a final number. It’s starting to look like a sick lotto game.

  11. Honestly, I remember feeling that way, myself, during 9/11, where I just kept hoping that the number would get so large as to seem unreal. I dread typing that because I know it might come across wrong, but that longing to both stay up with what’s going on and distance yourself from it does tend to have gross results.

  12. Don’t forget April 4th. King walks out onto the balcony at the Lorraine motel and gets killed by some bigot. Of course, he had delivered his “I have been to the Mountaintop” speech the night before. The night before, too, three black men had been crushed to death in a garbage truck when they had taken refuge against the rain and would not get out of the truck when it was to pull into the garage during the sanitation workers strike. The morning of his death, King had laughed himself weak during a massive pillow fight with Andrew Young and others as they struggled to fight off the grief and the rain.

    My point is that you have to choose what to hold on to and what to let go in a month like this. I would rather dwell on the words that transcend his death (or mine) and the wild joy of the pillow fight as an antidote to rage rather than meditating on his blood dripping off the landing and mingling with the puddles in the parking lot.

  13. I didn’t mean to pick and quarrel. I just feel that evil like this is against nature. Because a dog (or whatever animal) doesn’t know about good and evil, and a bacillus even less. But a person did this, and it is part of our nature (as I understand it) to understand the difference.

    There are 2,500 students there. The families must be worried sick. At least nothing cut the phones out.

  14. Pingback: Nashville is Talking » Local Reactions to Virginia Tech Shooting: A Round-Up

  15. I just feel that evil like this is against nature. Because a dog (or whatever animal) doesn’t know about good and evil, and a bacillus even less. But a person did this, and it is part of our nature (as I understand it) to understand the difference.

    I didn’t take it as a quarrel at all. I’m just thinking outloud. (That’s my stupid coping mechanism.)

    Any rate, I do think this all can be traced back to our “faith differences” discussion and the differing positions on Original Sin.

  16. From what I’ve read, nm, the phones were on but cell reception was really intermittent. But yes, they were mostly working and the internet was up the entire time, even if the school’s website wasn’t.

    Not that any of that really matters, but it’s something. The idea of something that scary happening and not being able to communicate is just…yeah. I know the cell phones and internet thing is new, but the fear of isolation is pretty bone deep.

  17. In NYC and northern New Jersey (probably in Connecticut, too), cell reception was destroyed when the towers went down. Regular phone lines worked, but were completely overwhelmed by the number of calls. The attack was on a Tuesday, but by the weekend people who had gotten out of the towers safely still had no way to know whether their co-workers were safe, unless they had broadband internet access. Most people didn’t, back then. It was awful.

  18. the 20th is also Hitler’s birthday.

    And my oldest son’s birthday. I had to lie to him when he was younger and tell him it was Walt Disney’s birthday, too, to keep him from being devastated.

  19. Wow. I had no idea so many awful things happened in April. It’s so eerie to me that the Columbine shootings happened in April, too. But not as eerie as the fact that I was just on the Va Tech campus the past weekend.

    This is all so surreal.

    And I’m so damn sad.

  20. Maybe that’s why they made April national poetry month. As W.C.Williams writes:

    It is difficult
    to get the news from poems
    yet men die miserably every day
    for lack
    of what is found there.

Comments are closed.