|dc.description.abstract||This sequential reading of Four Quartets attends closely to
form, rhythm, image, idea, syntax, tone, and mood, examining the
relations of one to another and of one part of the cycle to
another. It draws on earlier studies which are mainly thematic,
but it concentrates primarily on analysis of the poetry itself.
Such a commentary does not set out to prove a single hypothesis,
and therefore does not lend itself to simple summary.
But it emphasises, inter alia, these features.
1. The Quartets are rightly read as a unified cycle. The first
three, though relatively complete in themselves, are built upon
and retrospectively modified by their successors in a complex
pattern; and the recurring and developing themes are not fully
resolved until the end of little Gidding. On the other hand,
the five individual parts that go to make up each Quartet are
not self-contained, and cannot properly be read in isolation.
(Such readings fail especially to make sense of the Part IV
2. The poetry is meditative lyric, or lyric meditation, rather
than personal confession or philosophic statement. The poet's
voice often speaks generically. The whole cycle - like each
Quartet itself - begins with individual perception or experience
and, through meditation upon it, broadens into universal statement
at the end. The point of departure is generally some time -
transcending experience; the concluding meditation generally
relates the perceptions of the timeless to perceptions about the
nature of art and the nature of love, both human and divine.
3. Despite occasional lapses, usually in Part II or Part III,
assertions of large scale failure (in The Dry Salvages
especially) are not justified by close scrutiny of the poetic
texture. Analysis of structural, tonal, metrical and syntactic
features vindicates even the alleged prosaically flat passages.
4. The poetry works largely with traditional imagery, plain
diction, orthodox syntax and pervasive four-stress rhythm.
There are several departures from all these, yet a rjght reading
will see them as deliberate variations, for specific purposes,
on the given norms.
The general aim of the thesis is to demonstrate that the
poems are less difficult in thought and peculiar in method than
has often been supposed.||en