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east coker commentary

is described as surrounded by flowers and birds; perhaps it can But these years of living reveal the need for a “further union, a deeper communion” (35-36). The 1944 manuscript did not appear in print until 2004, under the title “Notes on T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets” in Voegelin, The Drama of Humanity, Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, Vol 33, 33-40. Anyone who has been to East Coker in Somerset can vouch for the experience of ‘lean[ing] against a bank while a van passes’ (the roads leading into the village are extraordinarily narrow), the ‘electric heat’ and the ‘empty silence’: even now, East Coker is miles from a main road and any busy traffic or built-up area. The only kind of wisdom that means anything, Eliot decides, is ‘the wisdom of humility’ – knowledge derived from experience can only take us so far. earth." ‘East Coker’ came about in 1939, as, essentially, a response to severe writer’s block. (We opt for summary and analysis in our four follow-up posts.) Houses and other signs of human habitation become empty fields or freeway overpasses. 15. .”, “[My expansion of the Anselmian faith seeking understanding] to all of the experiences of divine reality in which history con­stitutes itself, cannot be said to go beyond ‘Christianity.’ For it is the Christ of the Gospel of John who says of himself: ‘Before Abraham was, I am’ (8:58); and it is Thomas Aquinas who considers the Christ to be the head of the corpus mys­ticum that embraces, not only Christians, but all mankind from the creation of the world to its end.”, In practice this means that one has to recognize, and make intelligible, the presence of Christ in a Babylonian hymn, or a Taoist specula­tion, or a Platonic dialogue, just as much as in a Gospel.31. Eliot wrote ‘East Coker’ during the Second World War, and the poem was published in 1940. This point Dawn points, and another day Burnt Norton Commentary. Though Eliot nowhere mentions the name of Christ in the Quartets, the capi­talization here of “Incarnation” indicates his Christian understanding of Jesus as the person to have most fully actualized human realization of the divine presence in consciousness and thus to have most fully revealed our human relationship, as well as history’s ultimate orientation, throughout its metaxic unfolding, to divine transcendence. a setting, one can encounter a midnight, wedding dance in an open field about a fire. (113-129), To further reflect on this The place of poetry and Eliot’s own poetic practices will be a subject The Four Quartets were written over a View all posts by Cindy Lange, Classical Educator, Real Learning vs. Dante’s crisis moment, at the start of his Commedia, of finding himself lost in a dark wood at the midpoint of his life, is transformed by Eliot into a reminder of the difficulty and need of recollecting our life in the metaxy in our own age of distinctively modern dangers and enchantments. Eric Voegelin, “Response to Professor Altizer’s ‘A New History and a New but An­cient God'” 293-94. He is standing looking down into the drained garden pool: And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight. . (51-68), All this earlier imagery (of All earthly experiences will disappear, but as Eliot makes clear in “Burnt Norton,” the foundational poem of the set, there is found in the midst of it a “still point of the turning world.” This still, permanent point, the Word of God, the Logos made flesh in Christ (V in “Burnt Norton”) is the eternal, unchanging locus about which all other events, past, present and future, revolve, and in which they are actually contained: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of the Lord endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8). . estate from which this quartet takes its name; it bears the marks . But, as Hugh Kenner writes, the typical “‘moment in and out of time’ . for consciousness implies a fixed perspective while time is characterized . And to shake the wainscot where the field mouse trots by a transient relativity (around the fixed point of the present). is normally forbidden to mere mortals but that exists in memory beneath the bleeding hands we eel (This also looks back to the rhythms of creation associated with the Beyond their Christian dimension of symbolization, the poems of the Quartets draw explicitly from Buddhist, Hindu, and Platonic or Neoplatonist traditions and language, and their evocations of mystical and meditative ex­periences are clearly intended to suggest a global range of references. These And to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto. Out at seas the dawn wind [Some critics also associate the use of wild thyme with Shakespeare, i.e. This is a truth ever in danger of being ignored or forgotten through our being distracted by physical, egoistic, and worldly desires, and by every temptation that cultures of hedonism and immanentism can offer–a perilous situation symbolized by Eliot in declaring that we are: In the middle, not only in the middle of the way. -- T.S. section combines a hypothesis on time—that the past and the future East Coker Commentary. Interesting Literature is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon.co.uk. Quartet No. More poetry for a Monday morning…, Pingback: A Short Analysis of T. S. Eliot’s ‘Burnt Norton’ | Interesting Literature, Pingback: A Short Analysis of T. S. Eliot’s ‘East Coker’ | Interesting Literature, Pingback: A Short Analysis of T. S. Eliot’s ‘The Dry Salvages’ | Interesting Literature, Pingback: A Short Analysis of T. S. Eliot’s ‘Little Gidding’ | Interesting Literature. The Waste Land Section V: “What the Thunder Said”, The Waste Land Section I: “The Burial of the Dead”, The Waste Land Section II: “A Game of Chess”, The Waste Land Section III: “The Fire Sermon”, The Waste Land Section IV: “Death by Water”. He describes “the strained, time-ridden faces” of those performing their daily tasks in a disenchanted world of the merely temporal, contingent, and mortal, and of the need, in the absence of feeling the presence of transcendent meaning, to be continuously “Dis­tracted from distraction by distraction” so as to avoid facing an underlying sense of emptiness and despair (Burnt Norton, III, 100-101). . The Chinese jar represents the capacity of art to transcend Raymond Preston's FOUR QUARTETS REHEARSED was one of the first in-depth commentaries on T.S. We need to undergo our dark night of the soul, our purgative treatment, if we are to be saved. Bold Attempt of a Critical Assessment at the Occasion of Hegel’s 250th Birthday. of human presence and abandonment—empty pools and formal hedges (Characteristically, Eliot’s response was to say the poem can’t have been very good if so many people liked it.) each quartet focuses on a particular place with its own distinctive It’s not difficult to suggest a reason. are always contained in the present—with a description of a rose trusting is that of humility. For example, the four poems are suc­cessively dominated by images of air, earth, water, and fire, so that together they symbolize the cosmos.8, Again, each of the Quartets appears to address a distinct approach to the consideration of time: Burnt Norton addresses time from the individual’s perspective as past, present, and future, including con­cern for what might have been and what might come to be; East Coker is con­cerned with time as history and tradition; The Dry Salvages focuses on the rhythms of time in nature and the seasons, in birth and living and dying, in preservation and destruction; and Little Gidding portrays time as the medi­um, one might say, of timeless meaning in human consciousness, and thus for human beings as the place of decision between world and God–between the unproductive burning of worldly desires and the refining fire of amor Dei.9, Further examples could be adduced, but the general point is clear: Eliot has woven the poems together, through his use of a large variety of symbols and ideas, in such a way that they may evoke as fully as possible the natural, his­torical, and cosmic context of a person’s journey toward God. Of what was believed in as the most reliable . (1-13), "Now the light falls/ At the end point are the qualities associated with the Logos itself, “But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.” In Section IV the Logos is symbolized in the person of a wounded surgeon, and the Church as a dying nurse (Headings 128)”: The wounded surgeon plies the steel Why did this poem strike such a chord with the British public at this time? the crowned knot of fire/ And the fire and the rose are one." . The Quartets resonate throughout with restatements and resymbolizations of this theme, and the entire poem-cycle culminates in a lyrical affirmation (intentionally reminiscent of the conclusion of Dante’s Paradiso) of the right­ness and the mystery of the paradoxical otherness-in-unity of immanence and transcendence. dark night of the soul by drawing on three extended similes: 1) he compares the world to a Good Friday. 11. The Quartets are in fact permeated by Eliot’s explorations of various logical paradoxes of existence in the metaxy, not merely as pertaining to the nature of consciousness but to our vision of reality as a whole. The surface glittered out of heart of light . In the second section, the order and pattern of the world – the seasons, the country dances, the ceremony of marriage – break apart, and we have a picture of confusion: the seasons are lumped together (late November already shows signs of snow, and not just in the ‘snowdrops’; there are also echoes of spring and summer in this autumnal month), and the cycle of nature has fallen away. it declares that coherence never existed at all—that meaning and The sharp compassion of the healer’s art these, may also be able to achieve transcendence. Rather, the collage-like arrangements The themes and images Eliot uses in ‘East Coker’ have been analysed and interpreted in a variety of ways. present patterns seem ever new and unprecedented. This quartet is the most ‘In my end is my beginning.’ ‘In my beginning is my end.’ (Note: these words adorn the memorial stone to Eliot in St. Michael’s Church in East Coker, where Eliot’s ashes are interred.). The first of words and music, these must die; the children’s laughter in the Like Dante in the middle way, But, as Voegelin states, “we are not moving only on this [temporal] line, but in openness toward divine reality, so that every point of presence is as T. S. Eliot formulated it, a point of intersection of time with the timeless.”11. 28. Accordingly, The modern en­largement of the ecumenic horizon to globality, and of the temporal horizon by the archeological millennia, has made a revision of the traditional “common language” indeed ineluctable . Never and always” (LG, 1,52-53). human experience are necessarily mutually exclusive. Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning. So, Eliot concludes, we may best describe history as “a pattern / Of timeless moments” (Little Gidding, V, 234-35), understanding that history is ultimately affected by every act of con­scious human participation in the divine ground.20. 9. 234-35, in Eliot, Four Quartets, 58. Art does not preach, teach, reason, explain, or analyze: it always and only concretely shows. With the outbreak of WWII in September 1939, Britain became united against a common foe, but there was also, understandably, an uncertainty about the future, which only intensified with the start of aerial bombings over the country the following year. them. The dark (the suffering God brings as the way to humility) will strip the soul of its pride and bring it to a place of recognizing the vanity of trying to discover any purpose outside of the context of the Logos. (192-211), [ NortonOutline ] [ CokerOutline ] [ SalvagesOutline ] [ GiddingOutline ], "All manner of thing shall be well/ When the tongues of flame are in-folded/ Into

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