THE GREAT VERSES (8):
He reads the great verses in the bath;
his relaxing mind absorbent, he hopes,
as the sponge, nestling next to his soap.
T.S.Eliot: Little Gidding, The Wasteland;
another heroic effort to understand.
He gets glimpses, at times; signals, from afar.
Chinks of light glimmer, from a distant star.
It seems to make sense; meaning coheres;
bubbles in his bath foam swell, become spheres.
But, just moments later, it is as he feared:
sense now non-sense, bubbles disappeared.
The water turns chillier; more time passes.
Words fade and blur; he should wear his new glasses.
No good, he can’t grasp it. Frustrated, he sighs.
Why deceive himself, believe his own lies.
He must grasp some of it, before he dies!
But his brain now less pliant; he’s getting too old.
(“Too old. . . too old. . . trouser-bottoms rolled. . . “)
Mind rambling now, focus difficult to hold.
He clambers out, slowly, shivering, cold.
I thought I had done with the subject of my habitual reading anthologies of verse in the bath, but, it turns out, the subject has not done with me! T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets” and “The Wasteland” are poems that have often enticed me and then frustrated me with their opaque imagery. It was while I was making yet another attempt at the “Four Quartets” recently that the entity I like to think of as “my muse” stirred into life, and I thought: ok, I’m struggling to understand this, but I can at least try to write a poem about my struggles to understand these undoubted masterpieces.