ts eliot

Disturbing the Universe

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I’ve never really been one for reading poetry. I read the poetry I was assigned for classes precisely because I was assigned it and breathed a sigh of relief when we moved on, letting what I had read leak quietly out of my brain. Lines of prose that I find particularly beautiful and striking stand out in my mind like neon signs, but for whatever reason poetry has never resonated with me in the same way.

I never disliked poetry, but I think until very recently I never voluntarily read any, never walked into a bookstore and bought a volume to read at my leisure. Working on Matchbox has changed that a little bit—I’m more inclined now to pick up a journal and read the poetry than I ever would have been a year or two ago. This is a factor, I think, in the strange series of events that lead me to pick up T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland and Other Poems. The series of events is strange, almost unrelated, and too long to lay out here; let me just say I have a roommate and a newly rearranged living room and a puppy.

In what is presumably the Other Poems part of the volume I read there is a piece called “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” True to form, I couldn’t tell you now what most of the poem is about, but there is a line that has struck  me the way no other lines have done:

“Do I dare

Disturb the universe?”

I have no reason for why this line resonates with me more than anything else in that entire book or any of the other poetry I’ve read in my tenure as a literature major and journal editor, except for the idea that maybe that’s what we’re doing. The universe is huge and unknowable, something I think we’re all too aware of, and in that unknowability it seems inevitable that we would be disturbing something. As scary, perhaps, as that sounds, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think we should be daring to disturb the universe and I think living and creating, which is what we’re doing, would be exactly the way to go about it.  

Lauren Diethelm | Editor-in-Chief

Photo credited to: Lauren Diethelm

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