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Archive for the ‘T.S. Eliot’ Category

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Is it possible to have a favorite poet? Or for that matter, a favorite food? Certainly there are foods that stand out–lobster; top drawer chocolate and ice cream; perfectly ripe mangoes; fresh sushi from Sushi Dan; Irish oatmeal on a cold morning with dried cranberries and vanilla soy milk; blueberries, red raspberries and Ranier cherries in peak season; ripened, room temperature brie with rosemary crackers; butternut squash soup from Catherine’s restaurant…

For me, T.S. Eliot is akin to lobster–something delicious that I enjoy infrequently. I fell in love with Eliot when I took a semester of “Modern” Poetry with Carmine D’Andrea in 1968. At 20, I didn’t fully understand the poems–still, they spoke to me deeply and touched sensitive nerve endings. That love was rekindled one evening in 1971, and, again, years later in 1979, when I went to see an exhibition of Tom Neugebauer’s work at The Peter’s Valley Craft Center. Tom’s studio had just burned to the ground–his pieces were Raku fired; smokey pinks, and sooty black–beautiful, sculptural forms displayed on white pedestals. Stark black and white photographs of the charred remains his studio hung in silence on the white walls of the gallery. Next to the photographs were quotes from Four Quartets. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of loss and gain; that poignant intersection where life is at once vibrant and raw…strewn with ash.

Every time I open Four Quartets, wisdom and truth leap from its pages and though I’ve read it many times from beginning to end, I prefer now to just open it randomly and surrender to what I read–it is never less than completely relevant…

FROM FOUR QUARTETS: EAST COKER

in my beginning is my end…

…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.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here and there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.

– T.S. ELIOT –

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