In a cloud of unknowing.

T.S.Eliot asserted ‘that genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.’
 I appreciate that.  I read one of his poems ‘La Figlia Che Piange’ as a schoolgirl, understanding nothing but loving it all.  I loved the musicality of it, and the mystery.  I continue to be drawn to mystery and musicality, longing to be offered moments of transendence by poets, novelists, painters, the natural world  These are my entry points to life. 
I know little, have read little and understand less of everything I have seen and read. I share a sense of disconnection from a purposefulness with him.  I think that is why he speaks to me across language and not with it. 

He wrote  “The bad poet is usually unconscious where he ought to be conscious, and conscious where he ought to be unconscious. Both errors tend to make him “personal.” Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.”
When T. S. Eliot died, wrote Robert Giroux, “the world became a lesser place.” and  Igor Stravinsky  thought  of him “not only as a great sorcerer of words but as the very key keeper of the language.” 

Here are some excerpts from “The Four Quartets” that are particular favourites of mine
 from Burnt Norton (1935)

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past

Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.

from East Coker (1940)

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. 

In my beginning is my end.

Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or 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.

from The Dry Salvages (1941)

The river is within us, the sea is all about us 

For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts. 

and from other poems:

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
Do I dare Disturb the universe? In a minute there is time For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse. For I have known them all already, known them all; Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons; I know the voices dying with a dying fall Beneath the music from a farther room. So how should I presume? ( from the love song of J. Alfred Prucock)

I should have been a pair of ragged claws Scuttling across the floors of silent seas. (from the love song of J. Alfred Prucock)

“[Poetry] may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves.”

I hope I have whetted your appetite to either discover or rediscover this beacon of light.

Enjoy your weekend.



One thought on “In a cloud of unknowing.

  1. shewalkssoftly

    Lovely post. 🙂 I also wanted to let you know I’ll be featuring the haunted house automaton you linked me to a while back (giving proper credit, of course), so keep an eye out!



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