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TS Eliot

John Miller discusses TS Eliot with Benjamin Lockerd, who considers Eliot one of the two great poets in English in the 20th century. They focus on Russell Kirk's biography of Eliot, which has just been republished.

Eliot became a British subject at the age of 39 - "[My poetry] wouldn’t be what it is if I’d been born in England, and it wouldn’t be what it is if I’d stayed in America." According to Kirk, he shocked intellectuals by being a Christian.

In 2003, Professor Ronald Schuchard of Emory University published details of a previously unknown cache of letters from Eliot to Horace Kallen, which reveal that in the early 1940s Eliot was actively helping Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany and Austria to re-settle in Britain and America.

These are the last lines from Eliot's "Little Gidding", 1942 -

The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree


Are of equal duration. A people without history


Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern


Of timeless moments. So, while the light fails


On a winter's afternoon, in a secluded chapel


History is now and England.

With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this
 Calling

We shall not cease from exploration


And the end of all our exploring


Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.


Through the unknown, unremembered gate


When the last of earth left to discover


Is that which was the beginning;


At the source of the longest river

The voice of the hidden waterfall


And the children in the apple-tree


Not known, because not looked for


But heard, half-heard, in the stillness


Between two waves of the sea.


Quick now, here, now, always -

A condition of complete simplicity


(Costing not less than everything)


And all shall be well and


All manner of thing shall be well


When the tongues of flame are in-folded


Into the crowned knot of fire


And the fire and the rose are one.

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