From T.S. Eliot’s “Little Gidding” in his Four Quartets.
The dove descending breaks the air With flame of incandescent terror Of which the tongues declare The one discharge from sin and error. The only hope, or else despair Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre- To be redeemed from fire by fire.
By Carl Sandburg I spot the hills With yellow balls in autumn. I light the prairie cornfields Orange and tawny gold clusters And I am called pumpkins. On the last of October When dusk is fallen Children join hands And circle round me Singing ghost songs And love to the harvest moon; I am a jack-o’-lantern With terrible teeth And the children know I am fooling.
When I do count the clock that tells the time, And see the brave day sunk in hideous night; When I behold the violet past prime, And sable curls all silver’d o’er with white; When lofty trees I see barren of leaves Which erst from heat did canopy the herd, And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard, Then of thy beauty do I question make, That thou among the wastes of time must go, Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake And die as fast as they see others grow; And nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defence Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.
For shame, deny that thou bear’st love to any, Who for thyself art so unprovident. Grant, if thou wilt, thou art belov’d of many, But that thou none lov’st is most evident; For thou art so possess’d with murderous hate That ’gainst thyself thou stick’st not to conspire, Seeking that beauteous roof to ruinate Which to repair should be thy chief desire. O, change thy thought, that I may change my mind! Shall hate be fairer lodg’d than gentle love? Be, as thy presence is, gracious and kind, Or to thyself at least kind-hearted prove: Make thee another self, for love of me, That beauty still may live in thine or thee.
When I was younger it was plain to me I must make something of myself. Older now I walk back streets admiring the houses of the very poor: roof out of line with sides the yards cluttered with old chicken wire, ashes, furniture gone wrong; the fences and outhouses built of barrel staves and parts of boxes, all, if I am fortunate, smeared a bluish green that properly weathered pleases me best of all colors. No one will believe this of vast import to the nation.
I have to say I’m not so sure about this one. I used to look at things as the poet does, but now I realize that I should be careful about romanticizing poverty. How do the residents like this neighborhood? Did he talk with them?