The “ Four Quartets ” is a rhythm of four verse forms by T.S. Eliot, published separately from 1936 to 1942 and in book signifier in 1943. Eliot is possibly most widely known for his long verse form “ The Waste Land, ” but many critics consider “ Four Fours ” to be Eliot ‘s chef-d’oeuvre. The life of clip and alteration that he had antecedently depicted as a “ barren ” is found to be supported by an implicit in Godhead solution, a degree of life where the two poles of clip and timeless are identical. It considers the possibility of immortality ; the merchandise of the merger of clip and infinity.
The “ Four Fours ” was composed after Eliot ‘s transition to Christianity, and these verse forms appear to be Eliot working with a new apprehension of the intersection between the temporal universe and the eternal.A For him, the relationship between clip and infinity is indispensable to both an apprehension of life and a agency for get bying with it.
Eliot addresses the first job of coming to footings with life in a universe harmonizing to additive, consecutive clip in the gap lines of the first four, “ Burnt Norton ” . This is debatable since it opposes the impression of infinity. Every pick made eliminates all other possible picks that could be made in clip, and chew overing upon the roads non taken causes “ abstraction ” in, what Eliot calls, a “ universe of guess ” ( Burnt Norton I, 6-7 ) :
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the transition which we did non take
Towards the door we ne’er opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Therefore, in your head. ( Burnt Norton I, 11-15 )
Eliot argues that it is mindless to entertain this kind of guess:
But to what aim
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose foliages
I do non cognize ( Burnt Norton I, 16-18 ) .
What has happened and what will go on, come together at the present minute merely. Harmonizing to Karey Perkins, Eliot ‘s construct of the nature of the universe “ includes the thought of clip ( temporalty ) , that is, the stuff, transitory, here and now, the physical universe ; and infinity, the intangible, surpassing kingdom where one finds God, and for Eliot, significance and order in life. Four Fours discusses the duality between infinity and temporalty, and the minutes of brotherhood between the two. ”
The verse form opens with a simple statement of the cardinal job, the relation between the temporal and the ageless, in its abstract signifier:
Time present and clip yesteryear
Are both possibly present in clip hereafter,
And clip hereafter contained in clip yesteryear.
If all clip is everlastingly present
All clip is irreclaimable. ( Burnt Norton I,1-5 )
Terry Fairchild states that these gap lines “ … demonstrate Eliot ‘s appreciation of clip, its religious significance, and its philosophically exacerbating nature which the poet contemplates in the line: ‘time is everlastingly present, ‘ an averment that lends to clip both comparative and absolute belongingss while blending its assorted, fluctuating signifiers. ” The yesteryear is everlastingly disappearing, and the hereafter everlastingly being born. Therefore, the present is everlastingly being renewed into a individual minute.
Eliot goes on to picture the unreal universe of what might hold been: a universe with the kids he might hold conceived, which merely exists in a certain visible radiation and that collapses with the passing of a cloud. But one can non populate in this abstract garden of possibilities, one can non even remain at that place long, as he is driven from it by the pressing “ Go, travel, travel ” . One must return to world ; what the 2nd subdivision of Burnt Norton cites as the universe of clay and blood, of arteria and lymph, in which we are personified, and in which we are trapped in clip.
This first verse form is concerned with the several different qualities of clip and infinity that he surveies and revisits in the Four Fours from many angles. It can be argued that this, the temporal and the ageless, is symbolised in the imagination. There is the unwelcome thrush, which does non hold the garden ‘s dateless flawlessness and is non free, like the garden, from the bonds of clip. Thus it symbolises the temporal. In contrast to this, the garden possesses perfect beauty and transcendency, and is the incarnation of timeless ( or eternal ) features. However, the rose garden is besides vulnerable to clip because it is an ideal instead than an existent garden. In infinity, it will outlive a actual garden, but finally it is merely a building, and its beauty and flawlessness will be brought into inquiry as ideals change with clip.
Time, possibly, is a intentional context so as non to overpower the human head:
can non bear really much world. ( Burnt Norton I,44-45 )
Yet the enchainment of past and hereafter
Woven in the failing of the altering organic structure,
Protects mankind from Eden and damnation
Which flesh can non digest.
Time past and clip hereafter
Allow but a small consciousness.
To be witting is non to be in clip
But merely in clip can the minute in the rose-garden,
The minute in the arbor where the rain beataˆ¦be remembered.
Merely through clip clip is conquered. ( Burnt Norton II,33-44 )
Time is humanity ‘s necessary context. But, Eliot does non see clip as finally cardinal to world. He sees from a position which states that “ all clip is everlastingly present ” ; the “ still point of the turning universe ” , the topographic point around which everything revolves, but is itself stationary. There “ yesteryear and hereafter are reconciled ” :
Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is merely the dance.
I can merely state, there we have been: but I can non state where,
And I can non state, how long, for that is to put it in clip.
( Burnt Norton II,20-23 )
This “ still indicate ” can ne’er be wholly experient, but Eliot suggests that the present is the point where the yesteryear and future meet, and where humanity must larn to populate.
Time past and clip hereafter
What might hold been and what has been
Point to one terminal, which is ever present. ( Burnt Norton I,46-48 )
The 2nd Quartet, “ East Coker ” , describes the gait of life. This conveys both reassuring stability and exacerbating inevitableness in relation to life and life. “ In my beginning is my terminal ” is repeated throughout and is inversed in the concluding line. The beginning which anticipates an stoping, pronounces that there is disk shape to life. This besides invokes a sense of predestination:
Houses rise and autumn, crumble, are extended,
Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their topographic point
Old rock to new edifice, old lumber to new fires,
Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the Earth. ( East Coker I,2-5 )
This transition illustrates the ageless rhythm of creative activity and devastation, life under the authorization of clip. This is emphasised by the mention to funereal rites ; “ ashes to ashes, dust to dust. ” However, Eliot is inclined to paradox ; infinity is embedded even in this hopeless image of clip. As each house falls along with its renters, merely to give rise to new houses and new renters which will later fall, a continually turning organic structure is formed out of the mounting single minutes of creative activity and devastation. Time is synonymous with alteration, but in the thick of alteration infinity is found everlastingly skulking. ( Fairchild, [ sa ] : [ sp ] )
The dance in the first subdivision further emphasises the round nature of life, both in its content and in the strong beat:
Raising heavy pess in clumsy places,
Earth pess, loam pess, lifted in state hilarity
Hilarity of those long since under Earth
Nourishing the maize. Keeping clip,
Keeping the beat in their dance
As in their life in the life seasons
The clip of the seasons and the configurations
The clip of milking and the clip of crop
The clip of the yoke of adult male and adult female
And that of animals. Feet lifting and falling.
Eating and imbibing. Dung and decease. ( East Coker I,37-47 )
The dance is a minute of embodiment ; a minute of the extract of the eternal in the temporal. As Karey Perkins provinces, “ it affirms the day-to-day life and activity of the temporal universe, which is non a meaningless barren because it is temporal and passing, but merely when it is non redeemed by telling itself to the presence of the ageless. ” It can besides be argued that, for Eliot, this dance is the converse of the “ still indicate. ” The eternal is present in this dance, and the earthly motion is full of significance:
In contrast to “ Burnt Norton ” , with… the still indicate beyond clip, “ East Coker ” presents an antithetical vision of our bondage to clip, a vision of ceaseless and seemingly purposeless activityaˆ¦we are inclined to read the whole verse form as black comedy… On the other manus, the reverberations of Ecclesiastes subsequently in the transition ( ‘there is a clip for constructing / And a clip for life and for coevals ‘ ) seem to connote a Godhead context for human activities, and the attendant possibility of their being meaningful.
( Lobb, 1993: 27 )
This disk shape and repeat is illustrated in the word picture of the prostration and reuse of the houses, as cited above, in the first subdivision, and besides in the 5th subdivision in which Eliot realises that undiscovered rational chases are few ; new finds are but rediscoveries:
aˆ¦what there is to suppress
By strength and entry, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by work forces whom one can non trust
To emulate — but there is no competition —
There is merely the battle to retrieve what has been lost
And found and lost once more and once more: ‘ and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. ( East Coker V,11-17 )
East Coker besides illustrates the confusion accumulated in historical clip. The position on historical events are of all time altering as it is viewed from the position of the nowadays, which is of all time altering ; “ The cognition imposes a form, and falsifies / For the form is new in every minute. ” The present has humbleness as its wisdom, non cognition ; and will instead than mind is the manner to suppress clip. Distance from the rational allows world to take part in the activity of love.
In “ The Dry Salvages ” , Eliot depicts the deepness of our experience of apparent nonsense. The verse form is filled with images of the inevitable devastation brought on by river and sea, typifying the of all time present upset of being, the inevitableness of the last “ Annunciation ” of the crewman ‘s decease:
[ the river ] implacable,
Keeping his seasons and furies, destroyer, reminder
Of what work forces choose to bury. Unhonoured, unpropitiated
By believers of the machine, but waiting, watching and waiting.
( The Dry Salvages I,7-9 )
[ the sea ] tosses up our losingss, the lacerate Seine,
The tattered lobsterpot, the broken oar
And the cogwheel of foreign dead work forces. ( The Dry Salvages I,22-24 )
The tolling bell
Measures clip non our clip, round by the unhurried
Land crestless wave, a clip
Older than the clip of chronometers, older
Than clip counted by dying disquieted adult females
Liing awake, ciphering the hereafter,
Trying to unweave, wind off, unravel
And patch together the yesteryear and the hereafter,
Between midnight and morning, when the yesteryear is all misrepresentation,
The hereafter futureless, before the forenoon ticker
When clip Michigans and clip is ne’er stoping ;
And the land crestless wave, that is and was from the beginning,
The bell. ( The Dry Salvages I,37-50 )
Where is there an terminal of it, the soundless bawling… ( The Dry Salvages II, 1 )
The supplication of the bone on the beach, the unprayable… ( The Dry Salvages II, 5 )
Prayer at the black Annunciation?
There is no terminal, but add-on: the tracking
Consequence of farther yearss and hoursaˆ¦ ( The Dry Salvages II, 6 -8 )
We can non believe of a clip that is oceanless
Or of an ocean non littered with wastage
Or of a hereafter that is non apt
Like the yesteryear, to hold no finish.
We have to believe of them as forever bailing… ( The Dry Salvages II, 21 -25 )
There is no terminal of it, the voiceless bawling,
No terminal to the atrophy of shriveled flowers,
To the motion of hurting that is painless and motionless,
To the impetus of the sea and the drifting wreckage,
The bone ‘s supplication to Death its God. ( The Dry Salvages II,31-35 )
Everything must necessarily run into its terminal. And whatever significance may be perceived must be incorrect. But Eliot goes on to beg, in line 43, to give up “ aˆ¦trying to unweave, wind off, unravel and piece together the yesteryear and the hereafter ” . Alternatively the importance of the present minute is expressed, populating in a personal “ still indicate ” where yesteryear and hereafter intersect. “ The virtuousness of the minute must be diffused through the clip procedure, since adult male must sooner or subsequently return to the altering universe ” ( Gregory, 1990: 104 ) . Every minute is our last minute, the terminal of our former life, and the beginning of our coming life. Eliot “ strives to exceed that [ temporal ] dimension, to grok the timeless form in clip, to happen an ageless intent in temporal life ” ( Bergston, 1960: 36-37 ) . Seen in this manner, every minute is the minute of decease. Eliot attends to this thought in “ The Dry Salvages ” subdivision III:
You can non confront it steadily, but this thing is certain,
That clip is no therapist: the patient is no longer here. ( The Dry Salvages III,7-8 )
Here between the hither and the farther shore
While clip is withdrawn, see the hereafter
And the yesteryear with an equal head.
At the minute which is non of action or inactivity
You can have this: ‘on whatever sphere of being
The head of a adult male may be purpose
At the clip of death’- -that is the one action
( And the clip of decease is every minute )
Which shall fructify in the lives of others… ( The Dry Salvages III,29 -37 )
He besides addresses it in subdivision Volt:
aˆ¦ Men ‘s wonder hunts past and hereafter
And clings to that dimension. But to grok
The point of intersection of the timeless
With clip, is an business for the saint —
No business either, but something given
And taken, in a life-time ‘s decease in love,
Ardour and altruism and self-surrender.
For most of us, there is merely the unattended
Moment, the minute in and out of clip,
The distraction tantrum, lost in a shaft of sunlightaˆ¦ ( The Dry Salvages V,16 -25 )
The “ still indicate ” is non portion of the normal wonder about “ past and hereafter, ” which implies that the still point ‘s intersection is the meeting topographic point of the present and the ageless. There is another warning apparent in these lines, and expanded upon: to populate good, one must seek to make good in the present. This involves forsaking of the ego ‘s securities, and a making out in malice of the unknown:
In order to get at that place,
To get where you are, to acquire from where you are non,
You must travel by a manner wherein there is no rapture.
In order to get at what you do non cognize
You must travel by a manner which is the manner of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do non possess
You must travel by the manner of eviction.
In order to get at what you are non
You must travel through the manner in which you are non. And what you do non cognize is the lone thing you know
And what you own is what you do non have
And where you are is where you are non. ( East Coker III, 36-47 )
Love is most about itself
When here and now discontinue to count.
Old work forces ought to be adventurers
Here and at that place does non count
We must be still and still traveling
Into another strength
For a further brotherhood, a deeper Communion
Through the dark cold and the empty devastation… ( East Coker V, 29 -36 )
And right action is freedom
From past and hereafter besides.
For most of us, this is the purpose
Never here to be realised ;
Who are merely undefeated
Because we have gone on seeking ; ( The Dry Salvages V,41-46 )
Eliot sees humanity as finally consumed either by the ego or by love and withdrawal from the ego. Caroline Swinehart states that “ complete simpleness, a incorporate consciousness with no internal contradictions, comes merely through… self-surrender, ‘costing non less than everything ‘ … In The Dry Salvages, the realization and licking of the ageless Word is ‘the intimation half guessed, the gift half understood, ‘ by which ‘past and future / Are conquered, and reconciled ‘ ” ( [ SA ] : [ sp ] ) .
The “ Four Fours ” ends with a section in which old age and decease are forthrightly faced. The concluding four addresses the terminal of life. Small Gidding, which has given the rubric to the last verse form, is the topographic point where Nicholas Ferrar, the Anglican monastic, founded his spiritual community ; and signifies the last phase in the history of the psyche, the phase where it comes closest to “ the intersection of the timeless with clip ” ( Voegelin, 1944:38 ) .
Eliot provinces that, although all journeys take topographic point within clip, the season or clip of twenty-four hours is n’t critical to the experience of the timeless at the terminal of the route:
It would be the same at the terminal of the journey,
If you came at dark…
If you came by twenty-four hours…
It would be the same. ( Small Gidding I, 25-28 )
Here it is pointed out that the ageless transcends seasonality and clip itself ; a human being is clearly within clip and within specific cases and at specific topographic points on Earth when 1 is nearing the “ intersection of the dateless minute ” , but at the “ still indicate ” itself, the human stairss out of clip temporarily into the ageless, so a peculiar season or clip of twenty-four hours does n’t count when nearing a topographic point where the timeless intersects with clip. From that vantage indicate the human sing the “ dateless minute ” can see clip more clearly.
In the 2nd subdivision the poet meets a apparition combined of former professors, who “ unwrap the gifts reserved for age, to put a crown upon your life-time ‘s attempt… ”
First, the cold clash of run outing sense
Without captivation, offering no promise
But acrimonious flavorlessness of shadow fruit
As organic structure and soul Begin to fall asunder.
Second, the witting powerlessness of fury
At human folly, and the laceration
Of laughter at what ceases to divert.
And last, the riping hurting of re-enactment
Of all that you have done, and been ; the shame
Of motivations tardily revealed, and the consciousness
Of things ill done and done to others ‘ injury
Which one time you took for exercising of virtuousness.
Then saps ‘ blessing stings, and honor discolorations.
From incorrect to wrong the cheesed off spirit
Returns, unless restored by that refinement fire
Where you must travel in step, like a terpsichorean. ” ( Small Gidding II.76-93 )
Eliot sees our picks in life as taking necessarily to ingestion as if by fire: either the fire of ego and wickedness, or the fire of love, specifically the love of God, which consumes the ego: “ unless restored by that refinement fire… ” Eliot speaks in paradoxes to convey these ultimate truths. In the temporal universe of desire and motion, of hope and desperation, the “ lone hope ” prevarications in salvation from the devouring fire of desire by the devouring fire of the Holy Spirit ( Schuchard, 1993: 76 ) :
The lone hope, or else desperation
Lies in the pick of pyre or pyre — To be redeemed from fire by fire.
Who so devised the torture? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the custodies that wove
The unbearable shirt of fire
Which human power can non take.
We merely live, merely suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire. ( Small Gidding IV,5-14 )
Eliot proclaims that life can be lived merely in the nowadays, which is the intersection of clip past and clip hereafter, and the hereafter is charged with the inexplicable effects of our picks. Humanity is merely freed from past and future by populating good in the present, but will finally be consumed, in a sense, by the picks it makes.
To reason, the “ Four Fours ” can be read to show the victory of life over clip. Eliot moves frontward in the watercourse of clip and infinity until he reaches the terminal of the verse form, which is its true beginning ; life lived everlastingly in the timeless, no longer touched by the adhering influence of clip. The temporal is raised to the degree of the ageless. In the thick of his timeless “ still indicate, ” Eliot sees that there “ rises the concealed laughter/Of kids in the foliage/Quick, now, here, now, ever… ” Eternity found in the still point gives joy to the temporal kingdom. Therefore, the “ Four Fours ” ends with a return to the rose garden with its contrast between the avowal of world and the temporal, and the true acknowledgment that there is something more, the Eternal, repeating in the laughter of the kids.