My commute is too short for novels and too long for just standing around, so I’ve settled on poetry. I got some new Dickinson for Christmas but right now I’m working my way, slowly and irregularly, through the familiar ever-newness of the Four Quartets. Something about the contrast between the harsh, sullen banality of mass transportation and the gentle insistence of pain and beauty in Eliot—it’s too much to bear sometimes. A constant swirling reminder of the limits of humanity.
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
You say I am repeating
Something I have said before. I shall say it again.
Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.
~T.S. Eliot, East Coker III~
Miriel Thomas Reneau is a member of the Humane Pursuits editorial board. She has served as an ISI Honors Fellow, a John Jay Fellow, and an American Enterprise Institute policy analyst in constitutional studies. She endures many a sleepless night, though reports differ on whether this is due to her concern over federal courts’ equity jurisdiction or her addiction to caramel lattes. In her daytime hours, she can be found defending St. Augustine against Calvinist co-optation and T. S. Eliot against everyone.