Friday, May 09, 2014

Without history

In this beautiful world we traveled under these Minnesota clouds and others across the state and barely through a corner of Wisconsin and just into Michigan. It was a beautiful day, but started out on an extremely sour note. We were the last, I think, to leave the motel, but there was another car on the far side of the lot. A corpulent, coarse, red-faced angry man was yelling at a woman and calling her a bitch, bitch, bitch. (I couldn't look; this is S's description of him. I don't know why I didn't look; it seemed too private or too dangerous. Or I didn't want to know.) This went on a little as we got into our truck with the dachshund. The woman screamed back and then began to scream and flail at the two girls, who were sobbing. The group sort of eddied around their car; it wasn't clear if they were loading or unloading. The girls had long dark hair and reminded me of my granddaughter. We drove away. I have been thinking about this all day. 
Why do people act like this? How can children be protected? Why are men often so free with their anger? Why does it seem like public behavior and has gotten more and more coarse while I have been watching it? There are many terrible things going on right now all over the world and so much suffering and I can make very little difference. I wish I could. I don't know how this goes with this Eliot poem, but I think it does. Good night.

T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Section V.

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
The common word exact without vulgarity,
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together)
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph. And any action
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea's throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.
We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them.
The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree
Are of equal duration. A people without history
Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
Of timeless moments. So, while the light fails
On a winter's afternoon, in a secluded chapel
History is now and England.

With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling

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.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple­tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half­heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always-
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in­folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

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