Dry Salvages

Kyli Mouser
Understanding Poetry
Dr. Snow

Up, Down, Forward, Back?

“The way up is the way down and the way forward is the way back”. (Eliot, 40,129).   Time is all around us but what does it really mean and how should it really be defined?   Can time be defined at all?   I feel that these are questions that T.S. Eliot must have been toying with while he was writing The Four Quartets.   Eliot was quoted to be a classicist meaning that he viewed poetry as portraying a common heritage to people and not an over flow of powerful emotions.   Eliot believed that;
“A poet should write, ‘not merely with his own generation in his bones, but with feeling that the whole of the literature of Europe from homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a simultaneous existence and composes a simultaneous order” (Bodlsen, 23).  

I feel that this is very telling when you examine Eliot’s poetry because there is a certain connection that he makes with old English and he uses words that were used commonly in the past such as aussuages.   This is interesting because this word was primarily used in the 1500’s and he uses it as a reference to rhyme salvages with, in the quartet The Dry Salvages.   In specific the third movement of The Dry Salvages is all about the sense of definition and how we use time to structure ourselves.
The Dry Salvages is the third poem in the Four Quartets.   All of the quartets are intertwined with underlying themes in all the poems.   All of them are theorized to have a season, an element, and a location important to Eliot himself for which The Dry Salvages’ season is winter, its element is water, and the location is Cape Ann. (Bodlsen) Although there is no real mention of a season in The Dry Salvages section one mentions the sea being grey and sullen.   This gives the impression of winter because the sea is dark, grey, and said to be unforgiving in the winter.   Obviously The Dry Salvages’ element is water because it is...