... which is ironic, really, since in the end I chose something that's just as bleak in its own way. Sorry if you thought you were going to get something cheery, after all that build-up. The poem I've chosen is a little-known poem by T. S. Eliot, and I think it deserves wider recognition, though I suspect Mrs Eliot and the people at Faber wouldn't agree with my methods of achieving this (so let's not tell them). It doesn't have the tightness of form, structure, or rhyme that I normally look for in poetry; it doesn't have the richness of allusion that I usually enjoy in Eliot's poetry; it may seem a sparse little sliver of verse, but something about it just hits me every time.
In the Department Store
The lady of the porcelain department
Smiles at the world through a set of false teeth.
She is business-like and keeps a pencil in her hair
But behind her sharpened eyes take flight
The summer evenings in the park
And heated nights in second story dance halls.
Man's life is powerless and brief and dark
It is not possible for me to make her happy.