April on my mind

SINGKIT - Doreen G. Yu - The Philippine Star

I’m not sure they still study stuff like this in school, but during my time many, many, many moons ago, TS Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land” was a must in literature class, from basic English 1 to the higher English classes I took as an English major.

I still think it is one of the most beautiful poems, the images the words paint so vivid and haunting, the cadence of the syllables like a melody sung by the breeze.

April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

Winter kept us warm, covering

Earth in forgetful snow, feeding

A little life with dried tubers.

It is quite a long poem, the other stanzas certainly more difficult, darker, heavier but, when read aloud, is continually mesmerizing.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow

Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,

You cannot say, or guess, for you know only

A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,

And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,

And the dry stone no sound of water…

The first lines come to mind as I pause and consider April, the month starting with Holy Week for Christians and Ramadan for Muslims. Whether we like it or not, we are impelled to reflection even as many of us have gone to the beach or some resort in the mountains, or even just back to the old hometown, grappling with the heat and the blazing sun, a long hot summer ahead of us with the threat of an El Niño.

April is appropriately Earth Month, with April 22 designated as Earth Day, marking the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. Our Earth isn’t in very good shape, so now even previous deniers are forced to admit and confront climate change as a global emergency. From Pope Francis in the Vatican to the United Nations in New York, alarm bells are ringing for urgent action to avert an environmental disaster. Across the globe communities are experiencing abnormal weather patterns – snowstorms in spring, torrential rains and floods, drought and heat spells like never before seen.

We do not need to be told that climate is an emergency – we experience it year after year, day in and day out. From water to power, from food to fuel, we are living in precarious times. This April, and every month – every day – thereafter, let us live mindfully so that we do not hasten our Earth to become a waste land.

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