Tuesday, January 1, 2013


                                                 From Four Quartets
                                                       by T.S. Eliot

                      I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
                      For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
                      For love would be love for the wrong thing; there is yet faith
                      But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
                      Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
                      So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.


                                      And I Said To My Soul, Be Loud
                                                 by Christian Wiman

                                        Madden me back to an afternoon

                                        I carry in me
                                        not like a wound
                                        but like a will against a wound

                                        Give me again enough man

                                        to be the child 
                                        choosing my own annihilations

                                        To make of this severed limb

                                        a wand to conjure
                                        a weapon to shatter
                                        dark matter of the dirt daubers' nests
                                        galaxies of glass

                                        Whacking glints

                                        bash-dancing on the cellar's fire
                                        I am the sound the sun would make
                                        if the sun could make a sound

                                        and the gasp of rot

                                        stabbed from the compost's lumpen living death
                                        is me

                                        O my life my war in a jar
                                        I shake you and shake you
                                        and may the best ant win

                                        For I am come a whirlwind of wasted things

                                        and will ride this tantrum back to God

                                        until my fixed self, my fluorescent self

                                        my grief-nibbling, unbewildered, wall-to-wall self
                                        withers in me like a salted slug

Note:  "And I Said To My Soul," by Christian Wiman, from Every Riven Thing (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC).


  1. Thanks for these. I know the Eliot but I have to admit to not having come across Christian Wiman before.

  2. Thanks, DOMINIC. I thought it was interesting to contrast Wiman's more aggressive approach to the soul with Eliot's penchant for stillness, waiting, and faith.

  3. Oh my George, the Wiman poem is absolutely wrenching. I am ever learning to opt for still over will - and the Wiman words tell me (once again) that is the way to go.

    Hope this post does not represent what you are wrestling with at the moment....

  4. No, BONNIE, these are not issues I am wrestling with at the moment. I think of myself more in Eliot's terms, one who prefers to wait in stillness until the light breaks through and the dance begins. Although Wiman's language is quite magnificent, I do not see myself as a "whirlwind of wasted things" riding a "tantrum back to God." I find the comparisons, however, to be interesting, and that's the reason I decided to juxtapose these two poems.

  5. I got tired just reading Wimen! I think I'll wait with Eliot.

  6. Yes, BARB. I, too, and inclined to go with Eliot, though I find the contrast between the two poems to be interesting.

  7. Waiting and dancing are definitely more in my line than whirlwinds and tantrums:)

  8. I agree with you entirely, ROWAN. Thanks for the comment.