Burnt Norton I of T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets takes the reader through a sobering reflection upon time and perception of reality. It’s bookmarked by two philosophical reflections upon time’s relativity in relation to the present. After the first, the reader is taken into a walk through the rose garden, chasing illusive echoes, guided by an deceptive songbird. The echoes are false but charming, contradictions in their essence: a box circle, an empty pool filled with water our of sunlight. A passing cloud brings the reader back to reality and again reflecting upon the weight of the present moment.
Eliot’s poem has the capacity to bring the reader to our own rose gardens, passing its cloud over us, and forcing us to “bear” reality. How often can the world of our imaginations – “what might have been and what has been,” a world that doesn’t truly exist outside of our own minds, rule our thoughts, and be where we choose to live. Yet, as Eliot elaborates elsewhere in the Quartets, redemption happens in the present, and we must look it in the face.