T.S.Eliot at Little Gidding
Much of T.S.Eliot’s poetry remains a mystery to me. I can’t always plumb the depths of its meaning, but just occasionally it speaks to me, and gives me some memorable lines to ponder further. At the 6th Annual T.S.Eliot Festival at Little Gidding last weekend,
in the wake of splendid readings of the Waste Land and the Little Gidding Quartet (with Simon Armitage as one of the readers), I found re-visiting familiar verses in a ‘viva voce’ environment helped to tease out more of the subtleties of meaning. Whenever I complete a cycle-pilgrimage, I dig out my volume of Eliot to re-read those immortal lines at the end
of the Little Gidding Quartet that remind me that “what we call the beginning is often the end……….and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time”.
However, a chance remark by one of the speakers had me leafing to the closing lines of the East Coker Quartet, where I found further subtly defined thoughts to justify my existence on this earth. I could have expressed these same thoughts in some distressingly
muddled way, but not with the ease and directness of Eliot: “Home is where one starts from. As we grow older, the world becomes stranger…………………Old men ought to be explorers, here or there does not matter. We must be still and still moving into another intensity……….”
Little Gidding was a place that Eliot only visited once, but it left such a deep impression on him that he was inspired to write lines such as:
“If you came this way, taking the route you would be likely to take, from the place you would be likely to come from………… you would find the hedges white again, in May, with voluptuary sweetness……………..there are other places which also are the world’s end……….but this is the nearest, in place and time, now and in England”.