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Burnt Norton first stanza - The Ex-Communicator

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May 25th, 2011

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12:01 pm - Burnt Norton first stanza
I have made 8 posts about the first stanza of Burnt Norton. They are here:

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
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.

(2 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:May 25th, 2011 11:07 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you're continuing this. I've been reading Four Quartets on the bus this week. Burnt Norton is not one that I've previously found easily accessible and I'm loving these posts of yours, even if I don't always comment.
[User Picture]
Date:May 25th, 2011 11:17 am (UTC)
Thank you. Life has almost overwhelmed me this past month, but now I have some time I want to continue the series. What strikes me so much about Burnt Norton is how much he is suffering, and the suffering strikes me as convincing, while the redemption seems much more uncertain.

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