Posts tagged "Four Quartets"
Mama Liked the Roses (And So Did T.S. Eliot): Deciphering “Burnt Norton” – Part 2

Mama Liked the Roses (And So Did T.S. Eliot): Deciphering “Burnt Norton” – Part 2

Have you ever wanted to reclaim the past? In images, especially those of poetry, we possess a moment frozen in time. It seems so accessible the more detailed and the more sensuous a description we give it—such as Eliot’s ghostly trip into the rose-garden last week—and yet the permanence which it suggests is devastatingly illusory.

In one of Kurt Vonnegut’s descriptions of aliens, the Tralfamadorians from Slaughterhouse-five compare the human experience of linear time to being strapped down on a moving train, without being able to turn one’s head right or left, and having to look through a small hole at…

Read More »

Mama Liked the Roses (And So Did T.S. Eliot): Deciphering “Burnt Norton” – Part 1

Mama Liked the Roses (And So Did T.S. Eliot): Deciphering “Burnt Norton” – Part 1

Eliot’s Four Quartets remain among his most critically acclaimed and notoriously inscrutable works. Although there’s no established consensus on the precise meaning of these poems, they’ve all been viewed as meditations on time, each focusing on a particular aspect of this central reality of human life. Constantly going back to the Quartets and always enjoying them, this summer I’ve taken it upon myself to try and tease out some of the questions and ideas Eliot develops. Feel free to comment with other takes on the poem.

In “Burnt Norton,” Eliot struggles with the contingency of the past: there was a genuinely…

Read More »

The Timeless God, an excerpt from T.S. Eliot

The Timeless God, an excerpt from T.S. Eliot

An excerpt taken from T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets“, “Dry Salvages”:

To communicate with Mars, converse with spirits, To report the behaviour of the sea monster,Describe the horoscope, haruspicate or scry,Observe disease in signatures, evokeBiography from the wrinkles of the palmAnd tragedy from fingers; release omensBy sortilege, or tea leaves, riddle the inevitableWith playing cards, fiddle with pentagramsOr barbituric acids, or dissectThe recurrent image into pre-conscious terrors—To explore the womb, or tomb, or dreams; all these are usualPastimes and drugs, and features of the press:And always will be, some of them especiallyWhen there is distress of nations and perplexityWhether on the…

Read More »