Redeeming Time: T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets
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This exploration of T. S. Eliot's last major poem, Four Quartets, examines the poem's potential to transform readers' faith journeys. Kramer shows that the power of Four Quartets is its ability to create a dynamic interaction between the poem and the reader that promotes a genuine connection with the natural world, with others, and with the Divine.
gate opens to a rose-bordered walkway leading to another bed of roses. Two sets of stone steps descend to the lower level of the garden. To the left are two empty pools: one larger and rectangular; the other smaller and semicircular. From a knoll to the right, one can look out over the expansive and rolling valleys of Evesham.7 Landscapes in English poetry, especially English Romantic poetry, often reflect elusive, spiritual, and emotional sensibilities.8 According to Marshall McLuhan, Eliot’s
with language, lies in discovering verbal patterns that can glimpse, if only briefly, the deeper insights arising from silence. Throughout the Quartets, poetry arises from this silence and ultimately—contemplatively—evokes and embodies its deeper significances.47 Using words to “reach / The stillness, as a Chinese jar still / Moves perpetually in its stillness,” becomes a spiritual practice. A classical spatial form gives the poet a metaphor of indwelling opposites—stillness and movement. This
several honorary doctorates. Indeed, during the period from 1936 to 1939, he became increasingly visible as a prominent Church of England layperson who, like Ezra Pound and other American exiled writers, had adopted and adapted European culture “before the possibility of a transfigured return [could] be imagined.”1 Nine months before Germany invaded Poland, Europeans were beginning to feel the foreboding anxiety that war was immanent, and the Chamberlain-Hitler pact, signed at Munich in
lyric that leads to a longer-lined temporal illumination. Recapitulating Heraclitus, the poet offers a powerful rehearsal of death and decay, gathering together symbolisms that run throughout the Quartets. In three brief songs, three faces of death—psychological death (the temporary and reversible termination of cognitive, emotive, and spiritual vitality), physical death (the irreversible cessation of bodily functions), and spiritual death (the transformational termination of inauthenticity
closest confidants until he died in 1937. Like Eliot, More had approached the Indic tradition with great fascination. He had turned to the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Dhammapada and, like Eliot, had rejected Babbitt’s humanism. When Eliot read More’s account of his Christian conversion, he was deeply touched and wrote to his friend that his “spiritual biography . . . is oddly, even grotesquely, more like my own . . . than that of any human being I have known.” When Eliot read More’s