Tearing down the scaffold: “East Coker,” Movement II

In Movement II of “East Coker,” Eliot gets rid of three things he (and maybe we) depend on for our sense of things: nature, creative expression (in his case, poetry), and wisdom itself. This triple rejection, tearing down the scaffold of our self-deceptions, strikes me as very frightening, very brave (especially for a poet), and … Continue reading Tearing down the scaffold: “East Coker,” Movement II

That Is Not It, at All: Burnt Norton 5

This final section of the first quartet (appropriately enough, section five!) is a deep dive into the impossible—and hopefully it’s not a dry pool. (Would Thomas Stearns Eliot appreciate the humor? I do indeed think we need some, after all this hifalutin language and metaphysics…. But alas, already I digress.) We dive into the impossible—and … Continue reading That Is Not It, at All: Burnt Norton 5

Lent, the Subway Station, and a Descent into Solitude: “Burnt Norton,” Movement III

It’s hard to speak of spiritual things. They involve our deepest selves: our fears and hopes, our doubts and trials, our highest aspirations, that private work we do, every moment of every day, on the construction site of our souls. So it’s hard to talk about things such as Lent, prayer, meditation, the things we … Continue reading Lent, the Subway Station, and a Descent into Solitude: “Burnt Norton,” Movement III