Saturday, November 28, 2009
from T.S. Eliot - East Coker (excerpts Section V)
"So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years-
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l'entre deux guerres -
Trying to learn to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate - but there is no competition -
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again : and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.
Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
(c) excerpted from T.S. Eliot. East Coker (Section V)
(c) Photograph: John Robert Lee - "my vernacular city"
Eliot of Four Quartets; Walcott of Midsummer, The Bounty, The Prodigal; Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey - such masters and their later works are now my inspiration and my aspiration for my own poems of faith. Thank you.