❚ Four Quartets by TS Eliot
TS Eliot’s Four Quartets was a masterpiece composed in the toughest of times. e Quartets were written in the a ermath of the First World War and just before, and during, the Second World War.
ey conjure up the lost opportunities of the interwar years – “Down the passage which we did not take, towards the door we never opened, Into the rose garden,” – but all is not lost.
Having journeyed through terrible desolation – captured in e Waste Land
– Eliot arrives at his destination in Li le Gidding, the fourth of the Four Quartets. He joins with Mother Julian of Norwich in insisting “and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”.
is is not a foolish belief that we can avoid life’s tragedies and misfortunes. but that we can come through the eye of the storm. e poet describes the procession of helplessness of all who “all go into the dark” and consoles us with the appearance of the wounded surgeon and “the deep compassion of the healer’s art”. Like John Donne and the devotional poetry of the
17th century, Eliot’s Quartets are meditative poems displaying amazing originality, extraordinary learning, and depth.
His originality is central to this masterpiece. It is what he called “the music of ideas”.
Eliot himself regarded Four Quartets as his masterpiece and it led to his being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature: perfect for what Winston Churchill called our inevitable encounters with the “black dog”.