“Little Gidding,” Movement V: “The Fire and the Rose Are One”

So. Here we are, the final section of one of history’s richest poems, one of humanity’s finest explorations of the spiritual, and one of our most powerful, most open-hearted (strange to say that of T.S. Eliot, famous for his apparently straightlaced reserve … but remember, this is the man who wrote Old Possum’s Book of … Continue reading “Little Gidding,” Movement V: “The Fire and the Rose Are One”

Voyage by River and Sea: “Dry Salvages,” Movement I

The Four Quartets is quite an outdoors poem. We have seascapes, country hamlets, bombed-out city scenes, gardens. Sometimes these are themselves, and much more often, maybe always, they reasonate with spiritual states. In The Waste Land, that unforgettably dreary, painful beginning, April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory … Continue reading Voyage by River and Sea: “Dry Salvages,” Movement I

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

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