But hey, if enlightenment were that easy, you wouldn't have three more quartets to read… Lines 36-41 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. But the epigraphs to the poem are from a pre-Christian — and, for that matter, even a pre-Socratic — source: the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. . Words, after speech, reach Into the silence. Will the sunflower turn to us, will the clematis Stray down, bend to us; tendril and spray Clutch and cling? Most of the critical procedures which have been used with success in the analysis of poems have concentrated upon one or another of a limited set of terms: image, symbol and structure. But the chief contrast around which Eliot constructs this poem is that between the view of time as a mere continuum, and the difficult paradoxical Christian view of how man lives both 'in and out of time', how he is immersed in the flux and yet can penetrate to the eternal by apprehending timeless existence within time and above it.
One remembers that Eliot, in accepting Lawrence's definition of 'the essence of poetry' as a 'stark, bare, rocky directness of statement', drew an analogy with the later quartets of Beethoven. The movement and the poem end with a concrete and visual return to the rose-garden with their contrast between the inadequate affirmation of the sole reality of the flux and the true recognition that there is something more, the Eternal, echoing in the laughter of the children. The trilling wire in the blood Sings below inveterate scars Appeasing long forgotten wars. There is the temporal, the flux; but without God, the Timeless, there would be no temporal. At least for now… Lines 6-10 What might have been is an abstraction Remaining a perpetual possibility Only in a world of speculation. The later critic Russell Kirk agreed with Orwell in part, but felt that Orwell's attacks on Eliot's religiosity within the poems fell flat. Even after their time at Burnt Norton, Eliot stayed in close correspondence with her and sent her many of his poems.
He now had two poems he could slot into a sequence, what would become Four Quartets. Each of the Four Quartets considers spiritual existence, consciousness, and the relationship of the present to the past. This image occurs in a rudimentary form in 'The Hollow Men', along with a moving tree and voices heard in the wind: There, the eyes are Sunlight on a broken column There, is a tree swinging And voices are In the wind's singing More distant and more solemn Than a fading star. The rose-garden is the key idea in this passage. Time past and time future Allow but a little consciousness. Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children, Hidden excitedly, containing laughter. So we moved, and they, in a formal pattern, Along the empty alley, into the box circle, To look down into the drained pool.
Desire itself is movement Not in itself desirable; Love is itself unmoving, Only the cause and end of movement, Timeless, and undesiring Except in the aspect of time Caught in the form of limitation Between un-being and being. 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. Eructation of unhealthy souls Into the faded air, the torpid Driven on the wind that sweeps the gloomy hills of London, Hampstead and Clerkenwell, Campden and Putney, Highgate, Primrose and Ludgate. It has associations with paganism, Britain, and death. What might have been and what has been Point to one end, which is always present. What we need to do is just listen to the bird's song as a natural noise, and use it to focus our minds on the physical world that's more concrete and more immediate than the world of thoughts and words. Four Quartets is marked by a sense of circularity, of the cyclical, and haunted by notions of returns and returning.
Form, pattern and dance are merely analogies, ways of putting not 'eternal reality' but the poet's striving to apprehend it. Here Eliot, in a conception comparable to Wallace Stevens' 'Anecdote of the Jar', has suggested how art conquers time: Only by the form, the pattern, Can words or music reach The stillness, as a Chinese jar still Moves perpetually in its stillness. To be in such a state is to be free of our own desires, plans, and compulsions. What might have been is an abstraction Remaining a perpetual possibility Only in a world of speculation. Eliot does not hide the ideas behind the poetry here. Its implications are intricate and even ambiguous, since they raise the whole problem of how to discriminate between supernatural vision and mere illusion.
The inner freedom from the practical desire, The release from action and suffering, release from the inner And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded By a grace of sense, a white light still and moving, Erhebung without motion, concentration Without elimination, both a new world And the old made explicit, understood In the completion of its partial ecstasy, The resolution of its partial horror. The trilling wire in the bloodSings below inveterate scarsAppeasing long forgotten wars. Helen Gardner The subject of Burnt Norton can be defined in various ways. In particular, the universe is described as orderly and that consciousness is not found within time even though humanity is bound by time. But even this raises further questions — questions which we are probably not meant to be able to answer. In this elusive vision the moving dust in sunlight suggests the conditions of human existence, dust sustained and made visible by whatever power emanates from the still point; 'quick' means both instantaneous and alive; here and now acquire momentarily the significance of 'always'; and the 'before and after' which for Shelley contained those distracting glimpses of 'what might have been', cease to tantalize: they are merely aspects of 'the waste sad time' which the timeless moment has power to render irrelevant.
The silence into which words reach is, so far as it is attended to, their meaning, not their defeat: Only by the form, the pattern, Can words or music reach The stillness, as a Chinese jar still Moves perpetually in its stillness. Childs Here is part of the argument and imagery of Four Quartets. The sunlight fills the empty pool; presence is overcome by absence; meaning seems to be revealed. Nor is there any pretence of 'characterizing'. There they were as our guests, accepted and accepting. There they were as our guests, accepted and accepting. At the still point of the turning world.
The detail of the pattern is movement, As in the figure of the ten stairs. The clematis is sometimes associated with the Virgin Mary. In any case, it represents a duplicity of creation that works against the simplicity of true submission 136-158 Eliot contrasts desire, which is self-motivated and promoting, with that of love, which is in complete repose and submission. It is a moment of escape from the endless walking 'down a concrete corridor'; or 'through the stone passages of an immense and empty hospital'. And section V presents language itself as a transience on which sufficient form may confer endurance.
The literal meaning is simply that the poet has felt a moment of inexplicable joy, a moment of release, like the moment Agatha speaks of when she looked 'through the little door, when the sun was shining on the rose-garden'. The reason is, I think, that none of the critical procedures developed and employed in the fifty years since the publication of the poem has been responsive to the kind of poetry we find in 'Burnt Norton'. The first movement, like 'The Burial of the Dead', introduces a diversity of themes; the second, like 'A Game of Chess', presents first poetically' and then with less traditional circumscription the same area of experience; the third, like 'The Fire Sermon', gathers up the central vision of the poem while meditating dispersedly on themes of death: the fourth is a brief lyric; the fifth, a didactic and lyric culmination, concerning itself partly with language, in emulation of the Indo-European roots exploited in 'What the Thunder said'. Although the garden does not exist, it is described in realistic manner and is portrayed as an imagined reality. In the final movement of 'Burnt Norton', the distinction between the Timeless and the temporal becomes the distinction between The Word and words. But such a world is one of indolence and desiccation, a reiteration of the waste land and the land of the hollow men: There they were, dignified, invisible, Moving without pressure, over the dead leaves, In the autumn heat, through the vibrant air.
Except for the point, the still point, There would be no dance, and there is only the dance. The poem, moreover, speaks to Eliot's personal religious convictions. If all time is eternally present All time is unredeemable. This is the final concrete statement of what 'Burnt Norton' is about; but it recalls the experience we have been given in a different rhythm and with different descriptive accompaniments in the second half of the first movement, as the sun for a moment shines from the cloud, and the whole deserted garden seems to become alive: 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. This section prepares us for the fourth movement — a brief lyric. Yet the enchainment of past and future Woven in the weakness of the changing body, Protects mankind from heaven and damnation Which flesh cannot endure.