Saturday, April 26, 2014


"That was a way of putting it—not very satisfactory:

A periphrastic study in a worn-out poetical fashion,
Leaving one still with the intolerable wrestle
With words and meanings. The poetry does not matter."
"Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which

One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion."

--T.S. Eliot, "East Coker"

(This is how I feel when writing. Also: We've been reading the Four Quartets in my classes these last couple of weeks, which has been delightful, at least for me. The kids think that Eliot is deeply depressing.)


Sonetka said...

Eliot was a big hit with some of my friends and I when we were fourteen or so specifically *because* he was depressing. He was so serious! So grown-up! But in fairness we were reading his earlier work, not hacking through Four Quartets.

Emily Hale said...

Ha--I think I'm too sanguine--even actually depressing things I read as not depressing. (Although, yes, I think his pre-Christian work is way more depressing than his post-Christian.) I suppose the Four Quartets *are* at least partially about the war...