‘Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?’ T.S. Eliot’s Choruses from The Rock
I happened upon an excerpt from this poem taped to the wall of an office that I visited yesterday. I have done a rather bad thing, by cutting and pasting sections of the text because the whole poem, written as it was after Eliot’s taking up with the Church of England, contained many religious references which – for me – interrupted the flow. I have therefore confined myself to the ‘ribbon roads’ and ‘a thousand lost golf balls’. Sorry God, if you are reading, but this is a secular blog.
‘…And now you live dispersed on ribbon roads,
And no man knows or cares who is his neighbor
Unless his neighbor makes too much disturbance,
But all dash to and fro in motor cars,
Familiar with the roads and settled nowhere.
Nor does the family even move about together,
But every son would have his motor cycle,
And daughters ride away on casual pillions…’
‘…Will you build me a house of plaster, with corrugated roofing,
To be filled with a litter of Sunday newspapers?
And the wind shall say: “Here were decent godless people:
Their only monument the asphalt road
And a thousand lost golf balls.”
When the Stranger says: “What is the meaning of this city ?
Do you huddle close together because you love each other?”
What will you answer? “We all dwell together
To make money from each other”? or “This is a community”?’