Feb 12 2010

T.S. Eliot – East Coker excerpt (from Four Quartets)

Published by at 10:23 am under Poetry

East Coker – excerpt (from Four Quartets)
by T. S. Eliot

I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness,
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing facade are all being rolled away–
Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations
And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence
And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen
Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about;
Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing–
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

— from Four Quartets, by T. S. Eliot

/ Photo by jaytkendall /

Last night, I had to real pleasure of listening to a talk by Kim Rosen, author of Saved by a Poem. It wasn’t so much a poetry reading as an exploration of how poetry can open our lives. She pointed out how a poem can be a teacher, when we deeply engage with it. Its rhythms pattern the breath, the heartbeat. Its imagery blooms in the inner eye. Its fluid meaning sidesteps the linear mind, leading us to deeper, holistic awareness. A poem, she pointed out, can literally change our very biochemistry.

A poem, spoken at the right time, can free us. And it can bring healing in profound ways.

I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God…

Kim Rosen spoke these lines by T.S. Eliot to a friend struggling through chemotherapy.

A poem, held in the heart, spoken from the heart — imagine what that can mean at such a moment of crisis. This is one of the great gifts to the world.

So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

If you’re looking for ways to engage more deeply with poetry, I highly recommend Kim Rosen’s book, Saved by a Poem. And if you get a chance, definitely attend one of her talks or workshops. You can find out more about Kim Rosen through her website:


Have a beautiful weekend! Sending much love to you all…

T. S. Eliot, T. S. Eliot poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry T. S. Eliot

US/UK (1888 – 1965) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic

More poetry by T. S. Eliot

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “T.S. Eliot – East Coker excerpt (from Four Quartets)”

  1. Julie Annon 12 Feb 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Thank you, Ivan, for carving out a space in our attention sucking, cluttered lives for this sublime space of Waiting, waiting in the dark, a rich enveloping place of uncertainty and trust.
    And Kim Rosen is a “life below the surface” angel.
    I love her recent yourtoube on http://www.kimrosen.net/creations.htm

    You have a beautiful weekend, Ivan!

  2. aparnaon 12 Feb 2010 at 11:53 pm

    Thank you for reminding me Ivan, mind reader.
    Thank you for bringing me back to the thresh hold of waiting…..”I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you…”…. In my faltering, fledgling steps into meditation, Ivan, i have long based myself on your words: “Once you have gathered enough silence, silence gathers you.” (Thought for the day: June 23rd, 2008). Thank you!!

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