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The Dry Salvages: Canto III -- T S Eliot

Guest poem sent in by Ravi Rajagopalan
(Poem #1443) The Dry Salvages: Canto III
 I sometimes wonder if that is what Krishna meant -
 Among other things - or one way of putting the same thing:
 That the future is a faded song, a Royal Rose or a lavender spray
 Of wistful regret for those who are not yet here to regret,
 Pressed between yellow leaves of a book that has never been opened.
 And the way up is the way down, the way forward is the way back.
 You cannot face it steadily, but this thing is sure,
 That time is no healer: the patient is no longer here.
 When the train starts, and the passengers are settled
 To fruit, periodicals and business letters
 (And those who saw them off have left the platform)
 Their faces relax from grief into relief
 To the sleepy rhythm of a hundred hours.
 Fare forward, travellers! not escaping from the past
 Into different lives, or into any future;
 You are not the same people who left the station
 Or who will arrive at any terminus,
 While the narrowing rails slide together behind you;
 And on the deck of the drumming liner
 Watching the furrow that widens behind you,
 You shall not think 'the past is finished'
 Or 'the future is before us'.
 At nightfall, in the rigging and the aerial,
 Is a voice descanting (though not to the ear,
 The murmuring shell of time, and not in any language)
 'Fare forward, you who think that you are voyaging:
 You are not those who saw the harbour
 Receding, or those who will disembark.
 Here between the hither and the farther shore
 While time is withdrawn, consider the future
 And the past with an equal mind.
 At the moment which is not of action or inaction
 You can receive this: "on whatever sphere of being
 The mind of a man may be intent
 At the time of death" - that is the one action
 (And the time of death is every moment)
 Which shall fructify in the lives of others:
 And do not think of the fruit of action.
 Fare forward.
                O Voyagers, O Seamen,
 You who come to port, and you whose bodies
 Will suffer the trial and judgement of the sea,
 Or whatever event, this is your real destination.'
 So Krishna, as when he admonished Arjuna
 On the field of battle.
                Not fare well,
 But fare forward, voyagers.
-- T S Eliot
  The Dry Salvages - presumably les trois sauvages - is a small group of
  rocks, with a beacon, off the N.E. coast of Cape Ann, Massachusetts.
  Salvages is pronounced to rhyme with assuages.
  Groaner: a whistling buoy.
     -- [broken link]

I am sending in one of my favourite fragments of TS Eliot, which I have
loved for a long time, in memory of our very dear friend Sridevi Rao, who
passed away today after losing the battle with cancer. She was a great soul
- a very warm person, loyal friend, journalist and scholar, who had written
books on Zen and Adi Sankara, and lived a full life despite the threat of
cancer hanging over her head like the sword of Damocles all her life. The
Gods must have loved her very much for she was quite young when she died. It
hurts to refer to her in the past tense....This is to wish her well on her
journey. We love you and miss you.



The complete poem:
  [broken link]

Some discussion links:
  [broken link]

See also Poem #532 for another of the Quartets.

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