Journal Article

T. S. Eliot’s Ghostly Footfalls: The Versification of <i>Four Quartets</i>

Ruth Abbott

in The Cambridge Quarterly

Published on behalf of Cambridge Quarterly

Volume 34, issue 4, pages 365-385
Published in print January 2005 | ISSN: 0008-199X
Published online January 2005 | e-ISSN: 1471-6836 | DOI:
T. S. Eliot’s Ghostly Footfalls: The Versification of Four Quartets

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This article explores the versification of T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, demonstrating the alignment of its dialectical quality with Eliot’s own writings on scepticism, wit and drama. The pattern of Four Quartets is shown to be a dramatic one, populated with ghostly characters, who are not so much dramatic personae as dramatic versifications; much of this pattern is formed by sceptical dalectic between different uses of versification as a custom or habit. But this scepticism becomes a self-critical search for a poetic mode of truth. Into the pattern of self-conscious self-parodies, Eliot weaves moments of profound distraction, in which verse is inhabited, and becomes a kind of incarnation.

‘Skilled verse is the art of a profound sceptic’.1

Time present and time past

Are both perhaps present in time future

And time future contained in time past.

If all time is eternally present

All time is unredeemable.2

Journal Article.  8053 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Art ; Film ; Music

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