Meditating Four Quartets: Burnt Norton (III)

Eclectic Orthodoxy

Between the title of the poem and the first line of poety, Eliot has inserted two quotations from the ancient philosopher Heraclitus: οῦ λόγου δὲ ἐόντος ξυνοῦ ζώουσιν οἱ πολλοί ὡς ἰδίαν ἔχοντες φρόνησιν (“although Reason is common to all, most people live as though they had wisdom of their own”) and ὁδὸς ἄνω κάτω μία καὶ ὡυτή (“the way up and the way down are one and the same”). The significance of the epigraph emerges in the third movement of “Burnt Norton.”

Third Movement

Here is a place of disaffection / Time before and time after / In a dim light: neither daylight / Investing form with lucid stillness / Turning shadow into transient beauty / With slow rotation suggesting permanence / Nor darkness to purify the soul / Emptying the sensual with deprivation / Cleansing affection from the temporal.

We are in Eliotean wasteland now. A place of…

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