. . . for the rosesHad the look of flowers that are looked at.
- from Four Quartets, by T. S. Eliot
Four Quartets was the best, most important poem in the English language, I've intended to read it. One day I found it on the free book table in the big old dark hall outside my office at the university. It was strange, I thought, finding a discarded copy of the best poem in the English language. What English professor would cast it off that way? Oh well, my luck. Maybe they had an extra copy. The tiny black paperback volume sat for years on a small stack of books next to my telephone. Every morning when I listened to voice messages, I looked at the cover. It sat there, like my dad's tiny wooden screwdriver, photographs of my family, and a white piece of the refurbished Pont-neuf. The poem-book was something treasured, not for any personal reason yet, except that someone I thought highly of treasured it. At last, one lunch hour I picked it up and began to read, getting as far as the third page. I stopped reading because of the quote, above, on the second page, and another on the third. These were enough, I thought, for a while. This, my friends, is why I rarely finish books.
Then George posted about the poem Four Quartets, and because I like George and how he walks the world, I found my small black book, which had shifted from the desk next to my work phone to the dresser stack of books at home. I read it through (!). I went back and commented on George's post that I too was hooked. The poem would be a life-long friend.
OK. So then, what? Help me get this from my head to real life. What are sapphires and garlic doing in the mud, and what does it mean to keep your feet muddy? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
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That's where the post was going to end, and I was going to wait a couple of days to post it. After all, I don't post every day! Yikes. Lately it just seems there has been so much wanting to come out. But since writing the above, and then reading LoriKim's beautiful response (What about thorns?) at her blog A Year's Risings with Mary Oliver to a poem by Mary Oliver about roses, and because today is Mary Oliver's birthday, and because she is . . . is in the world, in me, expressing what floods from my heart every moment, I must post this today.