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(1888-1965 / Missouri / United States)

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Ash Wednesday

The text of this poem could not be published because of Copyright laws.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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Comments about this poem (Four Quartets 2: East Coker by Thomas Stearns Eliot )

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  • Jan Sweeney (3/15/2010 3:37:00 PM)

    There is no Christian message, except for the religious one. Eliot would have been the first to point that out. The Christian message is want not, seek not, crave not and do good because you are a child of God.

    Don't worry so much about 'religion, ' which has incorrectly been adopted by many as a synonym for empty moralizing. It's often wonderful and expansive. Don't learn about it from your friends and the newspapers; try it yourself. What have you got to lose, other than some mistaken ideas?

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  • Linda Treml (7/3/2009 9:21:00 PM)

    I first read this on Ash Wednesday and was stunned by the elegance of his passing on of the Christian message. Not the religious one, but the spirit of the words of Christ who wanted not; sought not; craved not; and judged not BUT loved so deeply that there was no room for gilding the gift of life, only appreciating and giving back.

  • Jerome Ullman (2/9/2008 4:03:00 PM)

    Why is it that Eliot's poems - The Waste Land, The Hollow Men, Ash Wednesday (and more directly Prufrock) - all seem to deal with women/romance in the context of an empty/morally-empty world? To consider: is love the solution?

  • Kirk Wilkins (10/4/2007 3:26:00 PM)

    Out of all of T.S. Eliot's impressive works of poetry, I somehow always enjoy and am able to relate to this one most. He captures powerfully and elegantly the experience of the Christian as they strive to reform their ways. His inimitable choice of words depicts economically the themes he is trying to convey.

  • CCG Tomas (5/9/2007 1:59:00 AM)

    To add to what everyone else has been saying, I definitely think that this poem is one of repentance.
    The speaker of the poem, possibly from the point-of-view of Eliot himself, speaks about how he has lived a life without God for quite a long time and how he struggles as he continues to find himself and ultimately find salvage in God and Christianity.
    The speaker also writes as if he has committed some kind of tragic sin, so this poem could also be a plea for help, a plea for salvation. Throughout the poem, the speaker indirectly refers to himself as lowly, saying 'Lord I am not worthy/ Lord I am not worthy/ but speak the word only.'
    So although others, even himself, view him as a lowly creature, a heathen even (haha, that rhymes!) , God's grace - his 'word' - is what will save him from damnation.

    What I like about this poem is that it's very quotable.
    'Teach us to care and not to care/Teach us to sit still/Even among these rocks, /Our peace in His will/ And even among these rocks'

  • Nieve Desu Yo! (5/7/2007 8:40:00 AM)

    This poem is very interesting yet i still dont understand nearly half of it. >< i could be partly because i dont understand poetry and have short attention span. But from what i could pick up, this poem is kind of sad because theres this man that feels that he is not good enough and loses hope in just about everything. He talks about his life story and relates it to a religious aspect. That about all i picked up so hopefully i can learn something from other people's comments :)

  • Jordie O (5/7/2007 2:48:00 AM)

    Because...Bacause...Because...reminds me of the Wizard of Oz song. Haha and yet this poem is actually quite depressing. It seems hopeless and lost. Despairng for some great sin commited. Atonement. It seems to have mostly religious allusions and words.

    So Eliot kind of just wants forgiveness and maybe someone to listen to him?

  • Errkuh Wang (5/6/2007 10:07:00 PM)

    First of all, the poem is titled 'Ash Wednesday', in reference to the first day of the Lent period, a time for repentance. The whole poem imitates this idea in the sense that the speaker constantly confesses he is unworthy. His feeling of unworthiness is portrayed in his prayer for sinners at the hour of their death. Upon reading IV, I sensed Eliot spoke of the Garden of Eden with the fountains and springs and his conclusion that humans were 'exiled'. Yet in V, Eliot continues with talking about the Word and how sinners walk in darkness. Here the theme of 'free-will' comes in, for God gave us free will to love Him and others. But along with the freewill to love, we also have the freewill to reject him. This idea is accurately described in 'those who choses thee and oppose thee'.

  • Kel Tako (5/3/2007 4:33:00 AM)

    after reading everyone's responses to Eliot's 'Ash Wednesday', i am pretty sure i can't sum it up or even attempt to say it any better....but i will try anyways. (e for effort, right?) okay, so hmm...being the non-religious person with no background on Christian beliefs or biblical references, i interpreted this poem as some sort of forgiveness type of ordeal. the narrator is praying that God, or some higher power forgives him for...sins, i guess. he really believes that pleaded to God and having the willingness to accept whatever punishment as accountability, shall ease his concience? why is he really pleading? for God's forgiveness or for his own self...because some of it sounds like pity, if you ask me-but i'm not quite sure. i could be interpreting this poem incorrectly, in that i'm seeing past any biblical reference or religious devotion and faith that may lie in this poem.

  • Casey Ohashi (5/3/2007 3:36:00 AM)

    This poem is Eliot's response to a religious epiphany. In an effort to express his need for God in his life, Eliot humbly admits he is 'not worthy', accepting the consequences he may have earned during his sin-ridden life. The poem is full of apologies and requests for forgiveness from God, including pleads for His pity. The heart-felt 'Lord Jesus, you are my savior, I give in to you' is a prominent theme throughout the poem, portraying Eliot's strong sense of religious devotion. Obviously, from reading the poem several times through, Eliot is committed to living his life justly, and wishes his hopes and prayers would convince those around him to do the same.

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