By Maria Popova
“Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind cannot bear very much reality.”
“[Is] only the present comprehended?” Patti Smith asked in her marvelous meditation on time and transformation. Generations earlier, at the same moment in history when Virginia Woolf was busy contemplating the elasticity of time and Einstein and Gödel were redefining our understanding of it, T.S. Eliot (September 26, 1888–January 4, 1965) — another supreme poet for the ages — penned what remains the most beautiful ode to the nature of time: Burnt Norton, the first of his epic Four Quartets, eventually included in his Collected Poems (public library).
In this rare archival recording, Eliot reads this timeless masterpiece, which contains one of the most exquisite phrases ever written in the English language: “the still point of the turning world.” Please enjoy: T. S. Eliot reads “Burnt Norton” (1935).