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From “East Coker,” by T.S. Eliot

July 23, 2010

Some lines that call this Friday good.

Reader-listener Elizabeth Esther had requested a T. S. Eliot poem here at the Feed.  I immediately put her request in the mental queue.  Well, this is what happens when something only goes in my mental queue: I get it wrong.  So Ms. Esther will have to wait longer now for her actual request, “Ash Wednesday.”  But then, all this is something like Lent, right?  Confessions.  Waiting.  Anticipation.  Even if it is usually the other way round, Ash Wednesday commencing the wait for Good Friday…

In any case, these Good Friday stanzas are part IV of T.S. Eliot’s “East Coker,” one the Four Quartets.

And here’s a YouTubed recording of Eliot reading the same section of the poem himself.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 23, 2010 9:45 am

    Thanks to you for reading aloud.
    Waiting with anticipation is fine.
    I’m not familiar with this poem. I like these lines:
    “Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
    the world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated…”

  2. July 23, 2010 11:32 am

    My pleasure as always–reading aloud really is one of my favorite things.

    Also, very cool that you found a copy and read more. (Does that mean my work here is done for today?) The Four Quartets are a challenging read, but even without “getting” the whole thing (Does anyone?), there are dozens of moments like that, perfect gnomic lines that just stick.


  3. July 26, 2010 12:44 pm

    I really enjoyed this reading.

    I often find when I finish a poem by Elliot, that I don’t really recall the the overall point of the poem (or maybe better, I haven’t actually understood what he was saying!), but I remember certain phrases that seem to jump out and grab me; the “perfect gnomic lines” that you mentioned.

    In this selection, I like the line, “Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.”

    Perhaps fittingly enough, for me, phrases like that are often what resolve the enigma that is Elliot’s poetry.

  4. July 27, 2010 4:50 am

    Speaking of youtube- I have to admit that I love this clip of TS Eliot reading “The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock”
    over music from the band Portishead.

  5. July 27, 2010 12:42 pm

    This was an excellent second choice. I will humbly await the reading of “Ash Wednesday.” Thank you for considering it. It was a poem that changed my life.

  6. July 27, 2010 5:10 pm

    That’s terrific, Shawnte. I think I have whatever the pitchy analog of color blindness is, but those two are playing from the same sound palettes, aren’t they? Thanks.

    And Elizabeth, you just upped the ante, didn’t you? Changed your life–that’s a big deal. I hope you’ll find “Ash Wednesday” when I do post it and leave a comment about *how* it did. Or post to your blog and link here? Something. I look forward to it.


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