Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Flagrant Violation

The nice thing about Chaucer is that he has no copyright restrictions.  T.S. Eliot does, and his estate guards them zealously.  One is always careful about cutting and pasting his poems.

Still, this is Ash Wednesday, and there aren't that many great poems on the subject.  His is one, and we looked it over again this morning.  We enjoyed, as always, the rattling Christological section:

If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

But we were caught off guard by this forgotten Burma-Shave howler:

No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice

Calvinist Burma-shave, no less.

And although Marian prayers (or quasi-Marian prayers, in this case) aren't really the Egg's stock in trade, this conclusion always moves us:

Blessèd sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.

Well.  There you have it.  Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood.  And let our cries come unto God today.

1 comment:

mark said...

Unfortunately many fine editions of Chaucer are copyright. Regarding Eliot (and many others) I note that estates are often much more zealous in the protectionist game than the dead artists. BTW, has anyone ever used that as a title (Portrait of the Artist As A Dead Man)?