Every poem an epitaph


I have never been disappointed reading Eliot. I always find something in “Four Quartets” that is worthy of reflection. Time weighs heavily, if unevenly, on each of the four. Some of my own thoughts have been informed by Eliot’s ideas of time. The beginning is the end returning to itself. This is how I have phrased my own idea. Toward the end of “Little Gidding,” the last of the four quartets, he writes:

“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.”

Earlier in the poem he had written something like a theme that runs through his work, and I have often returned here when I needed to refresh my thought.

“What we call the beginning is often the end

And to make an end is to make a beginning.

The end is where we start from.”

Eliot’s concept of time seems to have a sense of purity, originality, demand. He speaks of  “A condition of complete simplicity (Costing not less than everything).” Time by virtue of its purity and originality, demands everything. This is the essence of its complete simplicity. He ends with the prayer of Blessed Julian of Norwich:

“All shall be well

and all shall be well

and all manner of thing shall be well. “

From this I gather that what time demands of me, it returns to me.  This is not optimism. It is where hope lives.

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