CATS Talk on the Steps by Scott Proudfit

Dr. Scott Proudfit, who teaches in Elon’s English Department, discusses the poetry of T. S. Eliot in his Talk on the Steps for Cats, 10 February 2017, at the McCrary Theatre. He explained that while Eliot is remembered as a modernist master, his whimsical Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats was long a children’s favorite in England. The famous song “Memory,” however, is freely adapted by original director Trevor Nunn from Eliot’s poem “Rhapsody on a Windy Night.” Compare the first verse of Eliot’s poem with the song lyrics:

“Rhapsody on a Windy Night” -T. S. Eliot

Twelve o’clock.
Along the reaches of the street
Held in a lunar synthesis,
Whispering lunar incantations
Dissolve the floors of memory
And all its clear relations,
Its divisions and precisions,
Every street lamp that I pass
Beats like a fatalistic drum,
And through the spaces of the dark
Midnight shakes the memory
As a madman shakes a dead geranium.


“Memory” -Trevor Nunn


Not a sound from the pavement

Has the moon lost her memory

She is smiling alone

In the lamplight

The withered leaves collect at my feet

And the wind begins to moan.

Dr. Scott Proudfit discusses the adaptation of T. S. Eliot’s poetry for CATS in his Talk on the Steps, 10 February 2017. Photo by Devin Kiernan.


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