So I just finished reading Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot, a classic in poetry. The only problem, I have no idea what the poems are about. None. I think this is an example of the types of poems which turn people off to poetry. About halfway through the collection I decided to quit trying to understand the poems and to just look for phrases that spoke to me. When I switched the focus suddenly the poems came alive. Here are a few of my favorite phrases and my thoughts about them:
“Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.”
I love the idea that love places on a different plain. We can operate in a different realm.
“Humankind cannot bear very much reality.”
It seems that this an completely accurate phrase. Think of the events of this week with the bombings in Brussels, and the stupid things Trump has said. I know at some point I just shut down and have trouble with too much reality and I jump into a book or a Jane Austen movie for escape.
“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.”
We can travel the world over but there is no place like home. (Ever feel that way after a vacation?)
“Footfalls echo in the memory
down the passage we did not take
towards the door we never opened
into the rose garden. My words echo
thus, in your mind”
I often think about the "what-ifs" of life. What if I had done this instead or that? What if I went here instead of there? What if I could redo that regret? These thoughts certainly echo in my mind.
“For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.”
There is a political message in this phrase. I understand that the Black community in the South is sick of all the Civil Rights leaders of the 1960s being dragged out to speak about this issue or that when this generation needs a new voice.
Not sure I can explain these phrases mean but it blows my mind to think about them.
“All time is unredeemable.”
But this phrase about time is quite clear. We can't get back those wasted hours or days when we squandered our time on frivolous pursuits.
“Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning, every poem an epitaph.”
This is a nice wrap-up for this blog post. It reminds me there is beauty and power in the written word if I am willing to do the gleaning.
Don't give up on poetry, just dig in a find a few gems hidden within them to inspire you today and always. I am living proof it works. A poetry book, Four Quartets, was inaccessible to me until I changed my focus.