T.S. Eliot and the Power of the Mississippi

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Scott Simon reads part of T.S. Eliot's poem "The Dry Salvages from Four Quartets" about the power of the Mississippi River.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

The poet T.S. Eliot was born in St. Louis, and he knew the power of the Mississippi River. His 1941 poem "The Dry Salvages" from "Four Quartets" begins this way:

I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river Is a strong brown god - sullen, untamed and intractable, Patient to some degree, at first recognized as a frontier, Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce, Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges.

The problem once solved, the brown god is almost forgotten By the dwellers of cities - ever, however, implacable, Keeping his seasons and rages, destroyer, reminder Of what men choose to forget.

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