Tag Archives: TS Eliot

The Four Quartets

Quartet

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I love music of many kinds, so quartet brings to mind the Norwegian musicians – Vertavo String Quartet, or from a jazz perspective, the John Coltrane Quartet. However, What is forever etched on my mind are four poems, ย the ‘Four Quartets’ by T.S. Eliot.

The ‘Four Quartets’ are reflective meditations on humanity’s relationship with time. Eliot engages spiritual themes, and philosophy, and includes such influences as John of the Cross, Julian of Norwich (mystics), presocratic thinkers (Greek philosophy), and the Bhagavad Gita (Hindu). ย The poems were written between 1936 and 1945 and originally published separately, until 1948 when Faber published them in one volume. The period in which he wrote these poems is perhaps indicative of the content. The threat of war, followed by the long war and the blitz, which he endured, must have impacted his sense of mortality and time.

The Quartets are: ‘Burn Norton’, ‘East Coker’, ‘The Dry Salvages’, and ‘Little Gidding.’

My favourite of the four is Little Gidding, simply because it contains a profound observation of the human condition that is neither perfunctory, nor damning, but rather, somehow, encouraging. That observation of Eliot’s comes in part five of ‘Little Gidding.’

We shall not cease from exploration
And at the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

As I’ve quoted before, Proust puts it well when he says: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

Eliot is not at odds with Proust in this. He too is suggesting that we humans are curious, we are seekers of truth, of belief, fact, geography, place and space, and more. But, in spite of great travels and in spite of much learning, eventually we return to our roots, our beginning points, and see them afresh.

For me that means seeing the horizons of body, mind and soul with new inner eyes, being able to see with the eyes of wholeness, forgiveness, love, kindness, compassion, and self-giving. Eliot also speaks of how experience is transformative (if we allow it to be so). He also speaks to how we mature in those experiences along life’s journey, and how time affects us, that aging and experience might afford us opportunity to see ourselves afresh. We engage with our youthfulness and “kick the traces” as we used to say, rebelling; we turn to masks, we invent personae for the public I, denial is the trope of our lives. But in the end, at our very core, there is only ever, our true self, if we but look carefully. And if we attend to our true self, accept our self, love our self, we see ourselves whole as if for the first time.

In a stark reminder, he’s also suggesting that, as with the story of Adam and Eve, so with all of us, we never leave the awkwardness of self-awareness, separation, and a sense even an anxiety, that we could do better we could be someone. All of us strive to overcome those things, but find that we were/are, perhaps, a little too hard on ourselves and that we just need to see ourselves as good. The journey we engage is one to be whole and perfect, but yet, the end of our searching leads us back to where we began, that we were indeed whole in the first place, and that nothing is ever perfect.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under history, life, mindfulness, Philosophy/Theology, poetry, religion, Spirituality

My Meander

via Daily Prompt: Meander

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The Warren River meanders for only 137 kms from its orign at the Tone and Perup Rivers near Manjimup and Pemberton, and down to the Southern Ocean, but it is one of the beautiful rivers of the south west. This photo is from Moon’s Crossing, near the public campsite, the last of the mist is still palpable, the glassy water a beautiful, reflective mirror. So peaceful, so inspiring.

Author, among many succesful charisms, Toni Morrison once said: “All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.”

The great (well I think he was great) poet TS Eliot wrote in his work ‘Little Gidding’ “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

Neither is talking just about geography. They are addressing the inner life. Neither is being ironic, nor negative, or limited in their thinking. The yearning to return to the place we began is not to go backwards, but rather to appreciate in greater depth the journey to self. Such a journey is one of self discovery, the opening of the heart, even to pain and disappointment, the discovery of limitation, love and also otherness, to appreciate beauty in all forms, to know passion, to know oneness.

As we meander through life we do, at times, inwardly yearn to make sense of it all, even in the present moment. Eliot captures this briliantly. We return to where we began, but with new eyes, new insight. Because we cannot leave ourselves, we can only see with new eyes, experiences on the journey are all about arriving at self but with a completely new view framed and underpinned by our experiences. Which Proust famously pointed out when he said: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” By which he meant new inner eyes. I am who I am, but the journey opens me to the possibility of new insights and discoveries of self which enable growth and change. My new horizons come from how I engage with life, love, nature, realtionships, disappoinments, passion, and find fulfilment in expression as I continue to meander through each day. It is then I know something new about myself or some experience, some feeling, for the first time. That moment of epiphany is potent, difficult to articulate, and at times overwhelming in its beauty, as much as its formative pain.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under bush walking, Country, environment, life, mindfulness, nature, Spirituality

My Cavity, My Cavity

via Daily Prompt: Cavity

With apologies to T.S. Eliot ๐Ÿ™‚

My Cavity, My Cavity

My cavity's a mystery pain,
it's called the hidden hole.
My cavity, my cavity,
there's nothing like my cavity.
It defies diagnostics,
it isn't anywhere!

The dentist seeks it here,
the dentist seeks it there;
but my cavity, my cavity, 
well, it's not anywhere!

To all intents and purposes,
my mouth still looks quite right.
But underneath that pearly grin,
the enamel's worn very thin.

Some say its all the acid, 
others claim alkaline.
Well it could be all the sugar! 
But whatever may be the science,
my gums are sunken in.

My cavity, my cavity,
the Scarlet Pimpernell.
How long till they find you,
and fill that crater in?

Paul,
pvcann.com




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Filed under poetry