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Reflections on Lines from two poems by T.S. Eliot.

Reflections on Lines from Two Poems by T.S. Eliot

   ['Teach us to care and not to care, teach us to sit still...'--'Ash
   ['At the still point of the turning world... '--'Burnt Norton']

   to care is hope not to care
   is faith

   I who am an unbeliever
   learn to accept this
   acceptance which is
   neither belief nor disbelief
   not a shrug but
   a stare releases me
   from some point of
   responsibility enough
   is left

   I who am an unbeliever
   have been taught too
   studiously to care not
   caring is another aspect of morality
   madness is caring
   too much sanity the
   still point

   from which all action
   is possible from which
   one can move in any
   direction the random
   buffeting of neutrons
   leads one home who relies
   on probability

   there is more than one
   voice in the world
   listen check
   what you hear
   against the hum
   of the universe

   it is perhaps
   to invoke his name
   who was hateful to
   women and jews (I
   am both)
   it is perhaps foolish
   for a poet to
   invoke his name who
   was master of this art
   to invite absurd comparison

   I do not wish to
   rewrite history that which
   is written and true
   I wish to add what
   is unwritten and
   also true to be free
   of debts one must
   pay them

   in his words I reconcile
   the foolish and
   the wise the rhetoric
   and the emotion the group
   and the individual
   because the centre is not
   the middle

   but the still point where
   I sit still
   and let what will
   pass over me not passive
   but impassive the still
   point where my eyes
   see centre and

   the still point where
   I take that which
   sustains me take and am
   glad to take
   with the paradoxical
   indifference of nature
   which for all its
   divine distance makes
   heroic and detailed efforts
   to perpetuate

   it cannot matter
   to the dead poet
   that I thank yet
   do not forgive
   it can matter
   only to me of his
   bread with all its mould
   I eat

   to perpetuate myself
   I eat of it
   to be once and for all
   free of debt
   I am thankful
   for the rest I learn
   to care and not to care
   to sit still at the
   still point to turn
   and stare

Leah Fritz, an American ex-pat in London since 1985, has had her writings published on both sides of the Atlantic. Her essays and reportage in the United States were collected in Thinking Like a Woman, published by WINBooks in New York, and Dreamers and Dealers: An Intimate Appraisal of the Women's Movement, by Beacon Press in Boston. Both her prose and poetry have appeared in The Guardian, Poetry Review, PN Review, Acumen, The Literary Review, and London Magazine, among many others, and in anthologies, as well. She has judged several poetry competitions. Her archives are at Duke University in the United States.

Leah's first Romanian poetry co-translations, with Alina-Olimpia Miron providing the literal interpretation, are in Deepening the Mystery, by Cristiana Maria Purdescu, published by Editura Semne in Bucharest. Poems from that volume, and with Ioana Buse from Born in Romania by Liviu Ioan Stoiciu, published in both languages on the internet by Contemporary Literature Press in Bucharest, have been reprinted in Modern Poetry in Translation, Acumen and Poem Magazine. Working with Prof. Lidia Vianu of the University of Bucharest, she has re-interpreted the work of numerous Romanian poets for Poesis, an internet anthology of the Writers' Union of Romania. '
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Title Annotation:Poetry
Author:Fritz, Leah
Publication:European English Messenger
Article Type:Poem
Date:Dec 22, 2015
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