Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Burnt Norton by T.S. Eliot

I always seem to turn to T.S. Eliot during lent. He is one of the greatest poets who wrote in English and is both Christian and Modern. Burnt Norton is the first poem of one of his greatest works, Four Quartets. Helen Gardner says of this poem. "...we may say that mystically the subject of Burnt Norton is grace: the gift by which we seek to discover what we have already been shown."

Burnt Norton is actually an English manor with extensive, beautiful gardens. The poem was inspired when Eliot visited the gardens. In the first section, Eliot uses the rose garden to symbolize the place where the temporal and eternal meet. The first lines of the poem are

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.

As we read on, we get a suggestion of the Logos (John 1:1) which is developed as the poem moves into the second section--which I will discuss next time.

In the meantime, grab a copy of this wonderful poem and read it for yourself. You don't even have to go the the library--it is available free on many websites.

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