Thursday, October 24, 2013

burning in every moment

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 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.

— T. S. Eliot, from Four Quartets, East Coker, V


  1. In most of the trips I have taken through the years, both professional and personal, I have packed a small copy of "Four Quartets," knowing that, whatever would come my way, Eliot would bring me back to center before the close of evening. This quote reminds me once again of why I have valued not only Eliot's poetry, but also his insight and wisdom, for all of my adult life. Now, at seventy-one, I must remain focused upon his counsel that "old men ought to be explorers," for, while we must "be still," we must also be "still moving into another intensity for for a further union, a deeper communion . . ."

    1. I understand, George, because Four Quartets sustains me, too. Thank you again for nudging me toward it, after I'd intended to read it for so long. It is a well-loved little paperback on my handy pile. The language and imagery, and as you say, the insight and wisdom, are food for my soul.

  2. I love this, Ruth. We should be explorers, still but still moving. I've been asking myself questions again of my life's meaning and the necessities of this life stage and he has this elegant answer. I'll pick up Four Quartets. Thanks.

  3. This feels like an "eternalized moment," Ruth.

  4. j'aime beaucoup cette ambiance


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