Communicator (communicator) wrote,
Communicator
communicator

Burnt Norton first stanza

I have made 8 posts about the first stanza of Burnt Norton. They are here:

Preamble
1-5: Rejected hypothesis about fixed time
6-13: Time as a constant process of destruction
14-18: These words are dust
19-24: Into the Rose Garden
25-35: The ghosts in the garden
recap
36-48: Failed ecstasy

In this stanza I believe that Eliot sets a foundation which underpins Four Quartets. He describes human life as teetering on a knife edge between past and future which are not only unreachable but which do not exist, which are only uncertain hypotheses. All our memories of the past are dead dust, or ghosts. We may find a way of living in time, which may be tolerable or even briefly joyful, but it always goes wrong. We can't maintain a right way of being by our own efforts, and thus we live perpetually dying.
Tags: burnt norton
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