T.S. Eliot: There Is Not Enough Silence

T. S. Eliot, Ash Wednesday

Thomas_Stearns_Eliot_by_Lady_Ottoline_Morrell_(1934)

Lois Untermeyer, In Modern American Poetry, writes that “Ash Wednesday” is perhaps T. S. Eliot’s most perfect poem.

Written in the voice of one living in an uncertain age who had lost his faith, but has since found the courage to believe again, “Ash Wednesday” calls us out of our own world-weariness.

Could the poet have declared “there is not enough silence” in 1930? How we might long for the noise of that time.  Yet Eliot’s concern reveals a truth about us.  We avoid hearing the word any way we can.  In overwork, in our entertainment choices, in our useless chatter.

How much more desperate have we become for silence! We must be warriors who battle the noise and fight to find moments of quiet contemplation.  Without silence we cannot hear the word that can heal us.

Seek silence.  In the early morning.  In the night.  In the stillness of an open, empty church.  In adoration.

Take the time.  Fight for silence.

“Where shall the word be found, where shall the word resound?”

Not here, there is not enough silence.        

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This post is part of a series (see A Lenten Invitation from a Babbling Brook: Focus on Speech and Silence).

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In this contentious time, let’s spread the word about the importance of our words, of silent listening.

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