Wind Imagery and Transitoriness of Life

T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets is one my my favorite poems of all time, It is a powerful statement of mankind’s existential plight and of hope in the midst this hopelessness. He grasped the transitory nature of life and used vivid imagery to convey this. For example, in one of the Quartets (Burnt Norton) he wrote of, “Men and bits of paper, whirled by the cold wind which blows before and after time. It reminds me of a favorite scene in the movie, American Beauty, when two characters are silently watching a video of the wind silently buffeting a plastic bag, conveying the same message of Eliot’s line.

And on the same existential theme, here is a poem by E. L. Mayo:


This is the wind that blows
Through and through.

I would not toss a kitten
Knowingly into a wind like this
But there’s no taking

Anything living
Out of the fury
Of this wind we breathe and ride upon.

I conclude with the context of the Eliot quotation above:

Here is a place of disaffection
Time before and time after
In a dim light: neither daylight
Investing form with lucid stillness
Turning shadow into transient beauty
With slow rotation suggesting permanence
Nor darkness to purify the soul
Emptying the sensual with deprivation
Cleansing affection from the temporal.
Neither plenitude nor vacancy. Only a flicker
Over the strained time-ridden faces
Distracted from distraction by distraction
Filled with fancies and empty of meaning
Tumid apathy with no concentration
Men and bits of paper, whirled by the cold wind
That blows before and after time,
Wind in and out of unwholesome lungs
Time before and time after.
Eructation of unhealthy souls
Into the faded air, the torpid
Driven on the wind that sweeps the gloomy hills of London,
Hampstead and Clerkenwell, Campden and Putney,
Highgate, Primrose and Ludgate. Not here
Not here the darkness, in this twittering world.


2 thoughts on “Wind Imagery and Transitoriness of Life

  1. indytony

    “Distracted from distraction by distraction” – this describes me well as I seek to fill the hole in my soul by focuses on words (on the computer screen) that convey the Word to avoid the words (and images) of the TV.

    Thanks for these beautiful words.



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