roses that are looked at

"the roses / Had the look of flowers that are looked at." So goes a line from the "Burnt Norton" section of T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets. For twenty years that line was in my mind as, "the roses had the look of roses that are looked at." Perhaps some Steinian involution had inflected my memory. I think I like my version better.


Anny Ballardini said...

I also think I like it better!

jerry said...

Like we hoods like to say, no disrespect, but . . . I wouldn't ever dispute a poet's preferring his own lines to any other poet's (even Eliot's), but I find Eliot's version more interesting than your Steinian twist. There's something mysterious (to me) in the reverse synecdoche of Eliot's move from "roses" to "flowers," where the ripeness of the roses turns into something flattened and drained by being looked at.