Monday, September 15, 2003

Words I Love: A TS Eliot Moment

TS Eliot, Late in LIfe

:: TS Eliot's The Waste Land was regarded as one of the best poems in English almost as soon as the ink was dry. The University of Toronto has an outstanding collection of online poetry and commentary; The Waste Land link is above.

While I was showering this morning, getting ready to meet a friend for a cup of coffee at Starbuck's on Church today, suddenly these lines popped into my head:


Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,

Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell

And the profit and loss.

  A current under sea

Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell

He passed the stages of his age and youth

Entering the whirlpool.

  Gentile or Jew

O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,

Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

Awesome stuff ... and leading, as it does, to incredible conclusion, "What The Thunder Said" wherein Eliot sings, lullabyes, dances into my soul, and ours presumably, in ways which provoke visceral reactions like shivers, and involuntary reactions like smiles, and spontaneous, and repeatable, "ahhhhs!" as at:

Who is the third who walks always beside you?

When I count, there are only you and I together

But when I look ahead up the white road

There is always another one walking beside you

Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded

I do not know whether a man or a woman

I am smiling, now.

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