When "inoperancy" (to use Eliot's word) threatens, as it does this early morning hour, after useless attempts to read, first, The Wings of the Dove, then, Time Out New York, I experience the time as dry. So did Eliot, in the red rocks of "The Waste Land", and in the empty pond of "Burnt Norton." I read "The Four Quartets" essentially for consolation, I realize this morning. For a description of spiritual desert, and then for a description of the plenitude of the sea.
The river is within us, the sea is all about us;
The sea is the land's edge also, the granite
Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses
Its hints of earlier and other creation:
The starfish, the horseshoe crab, the whale's backbone;
The pools where it offers to our curiosity
The more delicate algae and the sea anemone.
It tosses up our losses, the torn seine,
The shattered lobsterpot, the broken oar
And the gear of foreign dead men. The sea has many voices,
Many gods and many voices.