T. S. ELIOT’S BURNT NORTON (No. 1 of ‘Four Quartets’)

burnt_norton-todayTime present and time past

Are both perhaps present in time future,

And time future contained in time past.

If all time is eternally present

All time is unredeemable.

What might have been is an abstraction

Remaining a perpetual possibility

Only in a world of speculation.

What might have been and what has been

Point to one end, which is always present.

Footfalls echo in the memory

Down the passage which we did not take

Towards the door we never opened

Into the rose-garden. My words echo

Thus, in your mind.

Read the complete poem
An early reminder that we’ll be reading and discussing T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets in our February and March sessions. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for details.  Please bring your own favourite excerpts, interpretations and comments for discussion about these challenging poems. Two suggestions for study: G. Douglas Atkins’ Reading T. S. Eliot: Four Quartets and the Journey Toward Understanding (admittedly, a rambling, tedious read) and Thomas Howard’s Dove Descending: A Journey Into T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets (a very readable and enlightening book). Both books are difficult to find in print, but both are available as Kindle downloads.
There are several excellent audio versions of the Four Quartets, but by far the best, in my opinion, is by Alec Guinness, which is available on YouTube here: Alec Guinness reads Four Quartets by TS Eliot.


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