“We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time.”
"The voice of the hidden waterfall And the children in the apple-tree Not known, because not looked for But heard, half-heard, in the stillness Between two waves of the sea. Quick now, here, now, always—"
“Humankind cannot bear very much reality.”
“Time present and time past Are both perhaps present in time future And time future contained in time past.”
"Time past and time future What might have been and what has been Point to one end, which is always present. At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless; Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is."
“Or music heard so deeply That it is not heard at all, but you are the music While the music lasts.” .
In My Beginning is My End: Jeremy Irons reads from Four Quartets
Q is for Questing Leaving Room for Thunder
Four Quartets is TS Eliot's last great work, composed against the background of imminent and actual world war. It consists of meditations on the relationship between time, love, death, religion, and cosmology.
Even as it is deeply philosophical, it is not possessed by definitions. In this it resembles Part V of Whitehead's Process and Reality, where Whitehead, too, was meditating on time and humanity in a poetic way, free from addiction to axiomatic prose.
Dylan Thomas says that poets leave room "for holes and gaps, so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash or thunder in."
In Four Quartets Eliot leaves room for the thunder, and Whitehead does the same in Part V of Process and Reality.
There is a freedom in the exploration: a freedom to explore and enjoy the mystery of having been moved by words, without landing on positions. In the spiritual alphabet of process theology, borrowing from Spirituality and Practice, Q is for questing. Leave room for thunder.
- Jay McDaniel, 11/12/22
On Not Being Possessed by Definitions *
“You're back with the mystery of having been moved by words. The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps. . .so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash or thunder in”.
- Dylan Thomas
"Poets are soldiers who liberate words from the steadfast possession of definition."
- Eli Khamarov
“Difficult poetry is the most democratic, because you are doing your audience the honour of supposing that they are intelligent human beings. If you write as if you had to placate or in any way entice their lack of interest, then I think you are making condescending assumptions about people. I mean people are not fools. But so much of the populist poetry of today treats people as if they were fools”.
- Geoffrey Hill
* All quotations from Professor Belinda Jack's lecture below
Four Quartets: A Scholarly Discussion
from BBC's In Our Time
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Four Quartets, TS Eliot's last great work which he composed, against a background of imminent and actual world war, as meditations on the relationship between time and humanity
David Moody Emeritus Professor of English and American Literature at the University of York Fran Brearton Professor of Modern Poetry at Queen's University, Belfast
Mark Ford Professor of English and American Literature at University College London
Poetry and Exile: A Lecture on Four Quartets by Professor Belinda Jack
A Process Understanding of the Still Point
The still point can be imagined as each moment of concrescence, which happens all at once and is not itself temporal. The subjective immediacy of our lives is always in this moment, never in the past and never in the future. The immediacy is holy ground. It is where the dance is.
The still point can also be imagined as the ongoing concrescence of God, itself always here and now as a Harmony of Harmonies in which the universe unfolds. This harmony, too, is where the dance is. It is the Dance in which all dancing unfold.
In both instances the stillness of the still point is dynamic, filled with aliveness, but not moving from one location to another like an object in space. An actual entity does not move, says Whitehead; it happens all at once.
The stillness of the still point, human or divine or otherwise, is the happening all at once.