Along the reaches of the street
Held in a lunar synthesis,
Whispering lunar incantations
Dissolve the floors of memory
And all its clear relations,
Its divisions and precisions.
These are the first seven lines of T.S. Eliot’s poem “Rhapsody on a Windy Night.” I didn’t understand the poem the first time I read it, and I still don’t. Perhaps that’s just as well, because it seems to speak more in the tongues of reverie than of knowledge, of things almost sensed and connections just missed.
That being said, the poem still resonates for me in the dreaminess of its language and the intensity of what is felt — there is an immediacy there, I believe: the things we can almost grasp hover before us clear as day, perceptible, yet still out of reach. This is perhaps what we feel in nostalgia, or distortions of memory such as forgetfulness or déjà vu.