“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 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.” T.S. Eliot
The quote above is a snippet of T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartet’s: East Corker, a grouping of poems said to be written about the four elements.
What do you get from this poem?
What moves or strikes you here?
Do you perceive this as positive or negative, neutral?
It took me several readings of these verses to understand what the heck Eliot may have been trying to communicate.
Here’s my summary line by line:
“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing;”
Hope for the “wrong thing.” Why? Why would I hope for the “wrong thing?” I can only imagine that God, or my higher power, has a much different idea of what’s right and good for me. My small, human mind and understanding can only perceive, see, believe, “hope for” some much. What about being still and waiting, like Eliot suggests, allowing Life, God or my Higher Power to bring me the right things, and be here now knowing the “waiting” IS the right thing at this moment?
“…wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing;”
Again, “love of the wrong thing.” How am I really to know what to love? As a human, I can be so limited and so unknowing about what’s really possible. What about just being present in the waiting? Not thinking I know what to do or who to be or what to love. Just be present in the moment and wait in the stillness?
“…there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting.”
There IS faith, but, like Eliot says, “the faith and the love are all in the waiting.” Waiting for the right time, the right things, the right everything and enjoying the moment right here, while we’re being still and waiting. Sometimes, how is the ultimate show of faith and love not actually doing anything, just waiting?
“Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:”
Ah, my small, human mind again! How could I possibly perceive or see or believe or imagine what could really be possible? What is really right for me? What is right for anyone? So, what if I choose to wait, instead, and be present for whatever is to come?
“So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”
So, while I’m waiting, the darkness, the things I can’t see, believe, feel or imagine, will actually be what I CAN see: the darkness is actually what I can see at the moment. In this way, the darkness becomes the “light,” what’s illuminated that I can actually “see.” And, in the same way, even though I’m still and not moving my body, how does this stillness actually become the “dancing” instead of me having to “move” to dance?
This small snippet of this poem speaks volumes.
What do you get from it?
Share your comments below in the comments section. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!
With Love and Aloha Nui Loa,
p.s. Have you ever felt “too” sensitive? Do you often feel the emotions of others? Do you feel overwhelmed in large crowds or around a lot of drama? If so, you may be a sensitive empath. Take the FREE quiz to find out!
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Sarah you summed it up greatly. I actually have been going through a long period of confusion thoughI prayed for the right answers. This poem actually speaks about not knowing and trying to trust. Which is hard as humans . Thank you
You’re welcome Kathy. I’m happy this has supplied some solace for you.