New Here?
Posts tagged "The Waste Land"

Dead Horses, Repentance, and American Religion

Allen Tate, an admired Southern poet (friend of Robert Penn Warren and teacher of Robert Lowell), published an essay in 1930 diagnosing the complexities of Southern and, by extension, American religion. It appears in a work by defenders of the agrarian way of life, titled I’ll Take My Stand, a book with some high points of […]

“Do Nothing” – Spiritual Advice from T.S. Eliot

From the wonderful play The Cocktail Party, well into the poet’s Christian phase. A man’s wife leaves him and an Unidentified Guest – who is almost a bona fide theophany (Eliot’s God prefers gin) – gives the man, Edward, some advice on how to handle his crisis:

Gordons-gin-ad-from-Playboy-magazine-July-1963…to approach the stranger
Is to invite the unexpected, release a new force,
Or let the genie out of the bottle.
It is to start a train of events
Beyond your control…

Most of the time we take ourselves for granted,
As we have to, and live on a little knowledge
About ourselves as we were. Who are you now?
You don’t know any more than I do,
But rather less. You are nothing but a set
Of obsolete responses. The one thing to do
Is to do nothing. Wait.

Edward: Wait!
But waiting is the one thing impossible.
Besides, don’t you see that it makes me look ridiculous?

Guest: It will do you no harm to find yourself ridiculous.
Resign yourself to be the fool you are.
That is the best advice can give you.

“Waiting is the one thing impossible” – in Eliot’s spirituality, activity and self-righteousness and pretension must be cleared from the minds of those who know only “a heap of broken images”, who are only that, and cannot be otherwise. For a man as attuned to grace and broken on the wheels of life as he, the one genuine spiritual vocation is the desperate plea, “teach us to care and not to care/ teach us to sit still.”