Sunday, June 9, 2013

When the Water Reflected the Sun

Yesterday, Jamie and I went on a day trip to Hakone.  Hakone is a breathtaking mountainous area about an hour and a half outside of Tokyo.  I have now been in Japan for two weeks but yestedary was the first time I have left the city.  As much I love the city and its perfection at making everything "convenient," I am so glad I had the opportunity to escape for at least a day to the surrounding countryside!  Hakone is beyond beautiful and is so green!  However, one of my favorite moments was at the end of our hike around the lake.  As we walked across a bridge that connected the peninsula to the main land,  I looked out over the water.  The water was so clear and reflective that the center of lake reflected the clouds and the sides reflected the trees.  It reminded me of some lines from T.S. Eliot's poem, "Burnt Norton," from Four Quartets.
"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...human kind/ Cannot bear very much reality."
What I saw in Hakone certainly did not feel like reality.  Throughout the day, as we walked around the lake, I felt as if I had entered a divine place, devoid of train timetables, stoplights, and convenience stores.  I felt as if I had a window into a naturally harmonic eternity.  Even now, it is difficult for me to put into words what I felt, but I have always been amazed at poetry's ability to encapsulate feelings, emotions, and experiences in ways that prose fails.

Below is Eliot's poem with pictures from my trip to Hakone that I think can be applied to the poetry.  If you get the chance, read the poem a few times.  Eliot has this magical quality of staying with you.  His words rise to the forefront of your mind, sometimes, when you least expect it.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment