Dove Descending


Yesterday I received the final package in an Amazon order I had placed some time ago. In this package was a copy of Thomas Howard's Dove Descending: A Journey into Eliot's Four Quartets.

I haven't been able to read much of the book, but this is precisely the right fit. This was what I had been hoping for back when I read Paglia's Break, Blow, Burn and I had been so sorely disappointed. I wanted someone who would treat serious poetry seriously and at length. Howard does that--covering a twenty-odd page poem in a book of some 140 pages.

Four Quartets is a later poem than The Waste Land written after Eliot had reverted to Christianity of the Anglo-Catholic variety. It is every bit as dense and as difficult to follow as The Waste Land even if there is less of the random throwing-in of multiple foreign languages.

Howard's books pulls away the curtains in the first few pages and uncovers theme after theme and symbol after symbol. I've not gotten half-way through the book, but I'm very pleased at the progress so far, and I am much more aware of Eliot's purpose in Four Quartets than I started out being.

If you're interested in tackling and understanding "difficult" poetry, and attempting to understand WHY it is so difficult, this may prove a useful guidebook in your journey. I'll let you know later when I have had more of an opportunity to digest the contents.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on March 29, 2006 10:36 AM.

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