Saturday, October 24, 2009

two favorite eliots... feeling poetic tonight

one of my favorite verses from TS Eliot, from "the rock:"

What life have you if you have not life together?
There is no life that is not in community,
And no community not lived in praise of GOD.
Even the anchorite who meditates alone,
For whom the days and nights repeat the praise of GOD,
Prays for the Church, the Body of Christ Incarnate.
And now you live dispersed on ribbon roads,
And no man knows or cares who is his neighbour
Unless his neighbour makes too much disturbance,
But all dash to and fro in motor cars,
Familiar with the roads and settled nowhere.
Nor does the family even move about together,
But every son would have his motor cycle,
And daughters ride away on casual pillions.

and here, more choruses from "the rock:"

There are those who would build the Temple,
And those who prefer that the Temple should not be built.
In the days of Nehemiah the Prophet
There was no exception to the general rule.
In Shushan the palace, in the month of Nisan,
He served the wine to the king Artaxerxes,
and he grieved for the broken city, Jerusalem;
And the King gave hom leave to depart
That he might rebuild the city.
So he went, with a few, to Jerusalem,
And there, by the dragon's well, by the dung gate,
By the fountain gate, by the king's pool,
Jerusalem lay waste, consumed with fire;
No place for a beast to pass.
There were enemies without to destroy him,
And spies and self-seekers within,
When he and his men laid their hands to rebuilding the wall.
So they built as men must build
With the sword in one hand and the trowel in the other.

O Lord, deliver me from the man of excellent intention and
impure heart: for the heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately wicked.
Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite and Geshem
the Arabian: were doubtless men of public spirit and
Preserve me from the enemy who has something to gain: and
from the friend who has something to lose.
Remembering the words of Nehemiah the Prophet: 'The trowel
in hand and the gun rather loose in the holster.'

it goes on, but that last one is one of my favorite lines in poetry of all time! so poignant and well-said. i love the biblical/historical reference. beautiful Eliot to deepen one's evening...

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