September 21, 2010

Quotable: T.S. Eliot (2)

Continuing from The Cocktail Party by T. S. Eliot...

Unidentified Guest
Ah, but we die to each other daily.
What we know of other people
Is only our memory of the moments
During which we knew them.  And they have changed since then.
To pretend that they and we are the same
Is a useful and convenient social convention
Which must sometimes be broken.  We must also remember
That at every meeting we are meeting a stranger.

Edward
So you want me to greet my wife as a stranger?
That will not be easy.

Unidentified Guest
It is very difficult.
But it is perhaps still more difficult
To keep up the pretence that you are not strangers.
The affectionate ghosts: the grandmother,
The lively bachelor uncle at the Christmas party,
the beloved nursemaid--those who enfolded
Your childhood years in comfort, mirth, security--
If they returned, would it not be embarrassing?
What would you say to them, or they to you
After the first ten minutes? You will find it difficult
To treat them a strangers, but still more difficult
To pretend that you were not strange to each other.

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