Meditating Four Quartets: Burnt Norton (V)

Eclectic Orthodoxy

Fifth Movement

Words move, music moves / Only in time; but that which is only living / Can only die. Words, after speech, reach / Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern, / Can words or music reach / The stillness, as a Chinese jar still / Moves perpetually in its stillness.

Perhaps the artist—poet, musician, potter, painter—can best express the mystery of time and eternity. Perhaps especially the poet and his words. But not words alone. Words must be shaped and brought into syntactical relationship with each other to communicate meaning. The poet is no mere wordsmith. He creates a concrete linguistic form that is itself the meaning of his utterance, just as a composer brings together sounds that become a symphony played on a Friday evening in Carnegie Hall. The poem once spoken (and poems are meant to be spoken, for how else can one hear…

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