Monday, September 26, 2005

While there's still time ...

Sept. 26 has but an hour and 20 minutes left, but before midnight I want to note that on this date in 1888 T.S. Eliot was born in St. Louis, Mo. That midwest origin near the banks of the Mississippi is often forgotten -- but never by Eliot himself, who alludes to it in "The Dry Salvages":

I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river
Is a strong brown god—sullen, untamed and intractable,
Patient to some degree, at first recognised as a frontier;
Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce;
Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges.
The problem once solved, the brown god is almost forgotten
By the dwellers in cities—ever, however, implacable.
Keeping his seasons and rages, destroyer, reminder
Of what men choose to forget. Unhonoured, unpropitiated
By worshippers of the machine, but waiting, watching and waiting.
His rhythm was present in the nursery bedroom,
In the rank ailanthus of the April dooryard,
In the smell of grapes on the autumn table,
And the evening circle in the winter gaslight.

1 comment:

  1. Frank, thank you SO MUCH for sharing that.

    The perception of rivers as a kind of spirit, or god - or a path to God, or enlightenment - seems to come up again and again in literature and, before that, in folk tales and mythology.

    I think Eliot captured that perception - and the loss of that perception - very well.