Eliot and Dickinson

TS Eliot – Burnt Norton


Time 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.
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.
Other echoes
Inhabit the garden. Shall we follow?
Quick, said the bird, find them, find them,
Round the corner. Through the first gate,
Into our first world, shall we follow
The deception of the thrush? Into our first world.
There they were, dignified, invisible,
Moving without pressure, over the dead leaves,
In the autumn heat, through the vibrant air,
And the bird called, in response to
The unheard music hidden in the shrubbery,
And the unseen eyebeam crossed, for the roses
Had the look of flowers that are looked at.
There they were as our guests, accepted and accepting.
So we moved, and they, in a formal pattern,
Along the empty alley, into the box circle,
To look down into the drained pool.
Dry the pool, dry concrete, brown edged,
And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight,
And the lotos rose, quietly, quietly,
The surface glittered out of heart of light,
And they were behind us, reflected in the pool.
Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.
Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.

There is so much Dickinson in this poem! The door
we never opened as “You
there – I – here — / With just the Door ajar /
That Oceans are – and Prayer
– “ (265). the birds of the end of summer (23)
leading us to “the deception
of thrush” (the old sophistries) with the children
laughing, innocence (23).
The “unheard music” as “Invisible, as Music –“
(202). The flowers as having
the look of being looked at as almost any image in
Dickinson — the idea of
an “upbraided Perfectness”. The idea of “guests”
in Dickinson (poem 523).The
Pool in Dickinson as Self-Reflexivity and Music
(letter 25, april 1862). The
Dryness of everything — “I, of a finer Famine /
Deem my Supper dry” — the
not desiring but only “for a Torrid Eye” (355).
The sunlight that fills the
Pool as the “slant of light” — the cloud which
covers the pool as the
Eclipse. and then that line: “human kind cannot
bear very much reality”
compare that to: “The Truth must dazzle gradually
/ Or every man be blind —
” (427).

i would love to hear if anyone sees other
connections here? especially with
time, i still can’t quite grasp dickinson’s idea
of time….anyone have
insights into this???

thanks for reading


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