Four Quartets

Four Quartets

Book - 1959
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Four Quartets is the culminating achievement of T.S. Eliot's career as a poet. While containing some of the most musical and unforgettable passages in twentieth-century poetry, its four parts, 'Burnt Norton', 'East Coker', 'The Dry Salvages' and 'Little Gidding', present a rigorous meditation on the spiritual, philosophical and personal themes which preoccupied the author. It was the way in which a private voice was heard to speak for the concerns of an entire generation, in the midst of war and doubt, that confirmed it as an enduring masterpiece.
Publisher: London : Faber and Faber, 1959
ISBN: 9780571068944
Branch Call Number: 821.912/ELI


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BetM 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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