Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Only Hope

The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
          Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre--
          To be redeemed from fire by fire.

   Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
          We only live, only suspire
          Consumed by either fire or fire.

                                       ~T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

I am about to start rereading Shirt of Flame, the last of a trio of memoirs by Heather King, the first two being Parched, and Redeemed. I wrote more about the books here and here. I never really read through Shirt of Flame, but just read bit and snatches here and there throughout the book, so now I'm reading it cover to cover. The passage from Eliot is in the front of the book and contains the reference to the title. I'm beginning to think that reading just about this much of Four Quartets once a week might be more profitable than sitting down trying to swallow it whole.



  1. Interesting coincidence: I was going to post a quote from Heather King later. I haven't read her books but there are some great things from her in Magnificat. As for the Quartets, last time I read it I decided I was always going to carry a little paperback copy with me, though I haven't carried that out.

  2. Janet whenever I try to reply to you on FB the page crashes. I hope to get to Santiago on about the 21st but I don´t have an absolute fixed date yet

    Grumpy in Muncillas de los Mucas¿