Four Quartets Paperback – 1968
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Top Customer Reviews
Anyway, despite obvious flaws, "Four Quartets" is one of the landmarks of modernist poetry. Basically, the poems are meditations on time and eternity and, most importantly, the excruciatingly difficult task of trying to attain a little "consciousness" therein. Those, however, who feel no great kinship with philosophical poetry -- who indeed feel that poetry should express "no ideas, except in things," are perhaps never going to warm up to this collection. For those, on the other hand, who believe that poetry is one of the primary tools for grappling with the verities, then what else can I say except pounce on this collection? Oh, it's going to take many readings, much time and a great deal of thinking to plummet the furthest recesses of this profoundly great art, but then again what more could you ask for from poetry?
By the way, if you've never heard the recordings of Eliot reading these works, then you simply haven't lived.
The "Bhagavad Gita" heavily influenced Eliot at this time, and you can see references both to the players (Arjuna and Krishna) and ideas of that text in each of the poems contained in "Four Quartets" (in much the same way as "The Golden Bough" informed "The Waste Lands"). Indeed, the entire book feels decidely Eastern (with every statement being balanced somewhere by it's complimentary didatic-opposite), or at least of the Classical, if any, Western period (the cyclical nature of both the ideas and the structure of the poems feels like a Zoraster or Golden Dawn, see Yeats' "Second Coming" or "Sailing To Byzantium", manuscript).
All of this is just to say, these poems cover a lot of mythical and actual ground. They may not appear as lush and vibrant on first reading as, say, "The Waste Lands"- but this is only due to thier precision and conciseness ("The Waste Lands", although a wonderful piece, being more of a sculpture than a poem, with whole segments being dropped, moved, added, rewritten, tweaked and recalibrated numerous times by two people other than Eliot over a span of decades).Read more ›
Be warned, however, that the Quartets are more uneven than most of Eliot's work. There are numerous passages of surprising blandness, as well as a few embarrassingly pompous lines ("I sometimes wonder if that is what Krishna meant" -- yeah, me too; all the time). In addition, the religion in the poems becomes progressively more explicit, which may or may not bother you. "Burnt Norton," the first quartet, was originally written to stand alone; it is the most continuously interesting and least Jesusy of the lot, as well as the shortest.
"Four Quartets" has sometimes been criticized for being more a product of reflection than emotion. While this is at least partly justified (I consider "The Waste Land" to be TSE's supreme masterpiece), 4Q remains a compelling, unforgettable poetic valediction by one of the greatest masters of the art.
Most recent customer reviews
By far the crowning of T.S. Eliot's poetry. The evanescent equilibrium point between a whole set of couples of antagons. Read morePublished on Dec 16 2001 by Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
All I can say is that "Burnt Norton" has had a very deep and profound effect on me "I can only say THERE I have been/I cannot say where" Exactly. Read morePublished on Nov. 28 1999 by danny schorr
A kind friend introduced me to this book 25 years ago. It is so full of real life, as it is. In grasping for words to describe what cannot be described by words, T.S. Read morePublished on Nov. 20 1999 by The Masked Marauder