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The Power of Allusion.The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali and Four Quartets - Burnt Norton by T.S. Elliot

(No. 1 of 'Four Quartets')

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.

But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.

Other echoes
Inhabit the garden. Shall we follow?
Quick, said the bird, find them, find them,
Round the corner. Through the first gate,
Into our first world, shall we follow
The deception of the thrush? Into our first world.
There they were, dignified, invisible,
Moving without pressure, over the dead leaves,
In the autumn heat, through the vibrant air,
And the bird called, in response to
The unheard music hidden in the shrubbery,
And the unseen eyebeam crossed, for the roses
Had the look of flowers that are looked at.
There they were as our guests, accepted and accepting.
So we moved, and they, in a formal pattern,
Along the empty alley, into the box circle,
To look down into the drained pool.
Dry the pool, dry concrete, brown edged,
And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight,
And the lotos rose, quietly, quietly,
The surface glittered out of heart of light,
And they were behind us, reflected in the pool.
Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.
Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.


When one gazes at The Persistence of Memory, a calm yet peculiar feeling envelops the viewer. While the painting offers no immediate explanation, it somehow conveys a powerful image of unity and completion; all of the strange elements in the picture seem to be bound together in an incomprehensible accordance. This is certainly a surrealist exponent or experiment, a complex work of art that is difficult to interpret, and it allows for interesting allusion to concepts with T. S. Eliot’s poem. It is clear that the painting’s main theme is of how relative things are in time and space. After looking for some time one can almost feel the contradiction between the concept of time and clocks and the ability to be exact, while time is melting away and becoming ambiguous and relative. Our rational memory then comes in to help and transform this reference in time and rekindle its exactness; it is, in reality, merely a painting.
Burnt Norton is a house in Gloucestershire, England. While visiting this place T. S. Eliot had the revelation and inspiration for writing the poem. The beginning of the poem is beautifully presented to us and speaks of the same relative dimension of time and its ambiguity:

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.

The interesting dimension being introduced here is of what time could have been but never was, the road not taken, the choice not made. The second section of the poem further expounds time and describes the importance of living the present moment as time is constantly melting away, the present becoming past all the time. From then on one can read the poem with the image of Dali’s painting in front of the eyes, as there is definitely some feeling of convergence between the two works.
The archetype world is well represented through different dimensions of symbolic representation. Firstly, one can think of a quest or a journey that each of us attempts in our integration and grasp of time, of comprehending essential turning points in time or escaping the ever present consuming quotidian. Time itself is also perceived as a defining archetype as it is symbolically represented by the melting clocks in the painting or the still point of the turning world in the poem. Both the painting and the poem have a background setting that allows one to transition from a realistic dimension to a more contemplative, dreamy state. Time is also indirectly expressed as the cyclical concept of death and rebirth, an archetype that has time as its central component. The lifeless creature in the painting and the fact that “time and the bell have buried the day” in the poem suggest that death is in fact caused by the movement of time.

Time and the bell have buried the day,
The black cloud carries the sun away.
Will the sunflower turn to us, will the clematis
Stray down, bend to us; tendril and spray
Clutch and cling?

The end of the poem describes the surrealist facet of the archetype of time. Similarly, after viewing The Persistence of Memory (at the “end” of one’s viewing), one is left with a clear picture of the nature of surrealism. Moreover, just as Dali once said that even he cannot understand his own paintings, so did T. S. Elliot mention that “human kind cannot bear very much reality.”

Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.

We are left, from both works, with the inevitable questioning of time and its presence in reality – one cannot know whether time propels reality, or if reality creates time.

Poetry Writing
The Persistence of Time

Who are you to push us into the future?
Who are you to simply close the curtain?
Your evil purpose is to make the days fewer.
O clock, you are the most helpful villain.

Often you are found alarming people,
Or striking the exact hour;
And though you sound grand in a cathedral,
In silence your tick-tock can devour.

Reflect you do not on past things,
Thy soldier-like self can only move forward.
Your favorite tune is one that rings,
Reminding us to stay ordered.

But dear horologe, why is it that you so much insist?
Perhaps you have no other choice than to persist.

Darkness Defeated
I am not what people feel,
I am not how the river flows,
But rather about how it glows;
Helping the world become surreal.
Vividly I strike through the clouds,
Uplifting countless struggling minds,
Sometimes shining from artificial kinds;
Always so essential to human crowds.

But why then is there such a thing as darkness,
Such deceit through so much calmness?
When morning comes and begins the day,
I fulfill my purpose with every single ray.
Always shining and ever present,
Defeating the dark in all its enchainment.

The Challenge at Hand (Free verse)
It is with delight and ardour
That one searches for a rhyme
To build on verse and line.
The muse does not always smile
To the best of the style;
First it awaits awhile
And then it arrives.
It revives and derives,
Drives and contrives
In storms of pencil and paper,
As one is absorbed in thought
Yet feeling of a verse that had already been taught.
Finally, the work is completed
The challenge is defeated
And the ideas depleted.
What was once a mere reflection
Is now a delicate confection.

How to Dream
(Found poem – randomly selected phrases from a variety of different sources put together)
My name is Nobody.
Should you have any questions, please contact me.
Have you ever been window shopping on a bright day?
I will teach you how to make a Seeing Stone today.
History brought to life – that is its typical nutritional information.
Think of stories of courage and determination;
The Agony and the Ecstasy, and all of Love’s Labour’s Lost.
Ah, but life is like that! It will not permit you to escape emotion, at any cost.
Listen! Sixteen missed calls.
The Clocks are like a Binary Sunset of waterfalls.
Run, you Starclimber!
The Call of the Wild awaits on your shoulder.
Finally, ensure that you are slowly savoring a sumptuous visual feast,
Until the fire’s out, and gone is the beast.
If not, try again; your order will be shipped soon,
And as for me, I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.

References (underlined in poem)

Line 1: Quote from Homer’s The Odyssey
Line 2: “Fintie” Bluetooth Keyboard instructional package
Line 3: Investigating Science 10
Line 4: The Seeing Stone, novel by Kevin Crossley-Holland
Line 5: The Times’ Concise History of the World, and an Evian water bottle label
Line 6: The Dangerous Book for Boys, by Hal Iggulden
Line 7: The Agony and the Ecstasy – movie title, and Love’s Labour’s Lost, play by William Shakespeare
Line 8: Quote by fictional character Hercule Poirot, from Agatha Christie’s Sad Cypress
Line 9: Celebrate Theory (piano theory book), and a message from the phone’s display screen
Line 10: The Clocks, novel by Agatha Christie, and Binary Sunset, a short melody from Star Wars: A New Hope composed by John Williams
Line 11: Run, novel by Eric Walters, and Starclimber, novel by Kenneth Oppel
Line 12: The Call of the Wild, novel by Jack London
Line 13: 365 Days in Italy – 2019 calendar
Line 14: Quote from The Adventures of Tintin: The Red Sea Sharks, by Hergé
Line 15: Error message for incorrect touch ID on the iPhone, and part of an email from Amazon delivery services
Line 16: Lyric from Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon

Moonlight Sonata (Villanelle)

Fear not the eternal beauty of the moon,
Its light is one that has long shined;
Never forget, she is the night’s gentle cocoon.

Do not be tempted to give in to gloom,
For you too would become a thing without mind:
Fear not the eternal beauty of the moon.

And when the sun shines harshly during the bold hours of noon,
Remember that soon, the stars shall be realigned,
Never forget, she is the night’s gentle cocoon.

Watch her light the night with her splendour and swoon!
As she has done for all ages of mankind –
Fear not the eternal beauty of the moon.

She is like the sweet fragrance of perfume:
Pleasant at first, yet soon to be forgotten by every mind.
Never forget, she is the night’s gentle cocoon.

And whenever her delicate presence shall resume,
The wings of your dreams shall be no longer confined.
Fear not the eternal beauty of the moon.
Never forget, she is the night’s gentle cocoon.

Toronto On

N.O.
Victor Andrei Lambert
15 ani, clasa X-a






by Victor Andrei Lambert     4/22/2019


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