“I am not myself very much concerned with the question of influence, or with those publicists who have impressed their names upon the public by catching the morning tide and rowing very fast in the direction in which the current was flowing; but rather that there should always be a few writers preoccupied in penetrating to the core of the matter, in trying to arrive at the truth and to set it forth, without too much hope, without ambition to alter the immediate course of affairs, and without being downcast or defeated when nothing appears to ensue.”
11 thoughts on “Writing without too much hope.”
Not sure what to say about this quote of T.S. Eliot’s, except to say that it gives me hope in knowing there are writers out there
“preoccupied in penetrating to the core of the matter, in trying to arrive at the truth and to set it forth, without too much hope, without ambition to alter the immediate course of affairs, and without being downcast or defeated when nothing appears to ensue.”
Many thanks, Gretchen!
Aha, that last phrase, there’s the rub during these days. And maybe during his days, too?
Getting to the core and truth of it all –that really does matter and this is so timely.
Wow. What a lot of good thinking in a short piece! He was so insightful!
For us who don’t write*, but pray instead, the important thing is, not to be “downcast or defeated when nothing appears to ensue”
*except with friends in mind
LikeLiked by 1 person
This is one of my favorite quotations from Eliot. I’ve been trying to surface the words I’ve read elsewhere that express the same thoughts differently, but I’ve had no success yet. I’ll keep pondering.
Good grief. That’s all it took to surface it, and it turns out it was the words of Eliot himself I was trying to find — from “East Coker.”
So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years—
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l’entre deux guerres
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate—but there is no competition—
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Linda, thank you for rounding out the thought so beautifully!
Here is Eliot reading his Four Quartets:
TS Eliot wrote this in one ‘aha’ moment, no doubt…..when nothing was ensuing. But a great deal ensued over his lifetime!
I don’t know the reference for this quote, but as an earlier commenter shared, the idea comes out in his poetry as well. Eliot wrote a whole book titled Christianity and Culture, which I would like to read, and in which I would no doubt find many more interesting thoughts.
A quotation from T. S. Eliot apposite to our current condition. Thank you for finding it, Gretchen.