It must have been something sensational that it has remained stuck in my mind ever since I could recall. A poem that keeps me captivated, enthralled, and awestruck. The poet being just about my age when he wrote it.
The poem is “Time and Space: By T.S. Eliot.
I was around 14 when I first heard about this poem. One evening as we were having tea and biscuits, my father recited a part of the poem –
“If Space and Time, as sages say, are things which cannot be,
The fly that lives a single day has lived as long as we.”
I was enraptured by these simple yet deeply insightful lines.
The first thing I did after tea was to go my room and look up the entire poem. From the beginning till the end, each and every line of the poem encapsulated a thought so overwhelming in its meaningful simplicity, a sensation so philosophically rich and a feeling so divine that I felt fortunate to have come across it.
“So why, Love, should we ever pray to live a century?
The butterfly that lives a day
Has lived eternity.”
About that time, I had been (to put it intellectually) going through an existential phase. Freshmen year, and the beginning of a new phase in life, a new journey, a journey that would shape my entire future: it was something I believe I was a bit too young to deal with the age of 14. And with that thought came various fears, worries and insecurities. That’s when this little phrase came as a spark of hope and opened up myriad possibilities invigorating my perception of life. Life isn’t measured in days or years. It is measured by moments, memories and milestones.
As another phrase from the poem so aptly reinforces this idea of the beauty of life –
“And though our days of love be few
Yet let them be divine.”
Though T.S. Eliot takes a romantic approach, I allow myself to look at it from the perspective of life in general and of cherished moments. Our lives may be long, but they should be enriched by moments worth treasuring.
In a world filled with negativity, with wars, hatred, crime and death, this early 20th century poem, with its realistic optimism and romantic divinity, sparks joy and nurtures hope. It is, I would say, one of the few things that I can repeatedly turn to for comfort.