Four Quartets

Four Quartets

Book - 1971
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The last major verse written by Eliot and what Eliot himself considered his finest work, Four Quartets is a rich composition that expands the spiritual vision brought out in The Waste Land. Here, in four linked poems, spiritual, philosophical, and personal themes emerge through symbolic allusions and literary and religious references from both Eastern and Western thought. Four Quartets is the culminating achievement by a man considered the greatest poet of the twentieth century and one of the seminal figures in the evolution of modernism.
Publisher: New York : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, [1971]
Copyright Date: ©1971
ISBN: 9780156332255
Branch Call Number: Poetry 811 Eli


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Jul 08, 2019

This was Eliot's first major publication after his formally joining the Anglican Church. The poetry has the same imagery and stately language of his previous poems, but this seems a little less intense. The poems are a wonderful intellectual exercise, but I thought did not quite have the same passion and intensity as his earlier poems. Eliot was at heart an aesthete. He posed as an Englishman, and this, along with Thomas Beckett's portrayal in "Murder in the Cathedral,"cause one to wonder about the reasons for his "conversion". These poems feel like Eliot putting to rest some things that he had been living wither a long while. Gone is the poet who said we are "in rat's alley where the dead men lose their bones". After this came a sort of new Eliot and "Book of Practical Cats", which eventually after his death made it to Broadway. That path doesn't seem likely for "The Waste Land" and "Ash Wednesday", but these days, who knows?
I read my copy in his Collected Works.

May 21, 2019

Beautiful, mostly unrhymed poetry: meditations on time and its effect on place, and meditations on the redemption which is found beyond time and place and beyond the pagan, Eastern, and English (British) references in each "Quartet". Contains a number of familiar quotes. There is some breathtaking, transcendant imagery: "And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight"; "Midwinter Spring is its own season"; "The dove descending breaks the air with flame of incandescent terror".

..."It all speaks of something pure; something that I was born remembering" -- Champion Birdwatchers, a band, not quoting Eliot.

JCLBetM Aug 23, 2018

The Four Quartets is often regarded as Eliot's finest work. Composed of four interlinked poems, you will be surprised at how many lines you recognize. Don’t let his circular sounding opening put you off. You have to let the words wash over you at first — take the metaphorical plunge, so to speak. (Yes, I realize I said you were just dipping your toe in, and now I’ve told you to jump all the way in. Do it.) Chock full of so many quotable phrases, these poems have a way of settling into you, and for ever after affecting how you experience your life.

These poems address our relationship with time, the universe, and the divine. Don't let the circle-speak make you dizzy--everything falls into place if you will keep calm and read on.

You'll be surprised at how many lines are commonly quoted. One of the most famous being: "We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."

I usually read this in its entirety every year. And regularly reread snippets.

Nov 07, 2017

Widely regarded as a classic, and certainly a summing-up as Eliot approached the end of life. Whether it's his best work can be debated. Even while reveling in his imagery, especially the intensity of "The Dry Salvages" with its poignant accounting of approaching finality, I yet found myself regretting the absence of the dark humor of "Murder in the Cathedral" or the droll observations of "Old Possum's Book of practical Cats". Never mind, this is still very fine stuff, an old wine well cellared.
I'm struck by the similarity of mood between these poems and that of Richard Strauss' "Four Last Songs", each of them in turn having been based upon poems that looked toward end of life. Acceptance and clarity of understanding rather than melancholia.
The fact that Eliot chose to title each 'quartet" with the name of a particular place, three of them iconic to England, the other on the New England coast intrigued me. Here was a man born in the American mid-west who only became a British subject in middle age. And yet his work is deeply infused with the atmosphere of gardens and the sea, characteristics that are quintessentially English.


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