Paris Review, Spring-Summer 1959, #21 (T.S. Eliot)

I think it’s awfully dangerous to give general advice
to those dying of drink or shipwreck, suicide, one thing or another
once you know how to observe them, it’s wise

not to try to form people in your own image: fancy old
fashioned boom boom, cloak-and-dagger Georgian scenes, I think
it’s awfully dangerous to give general advice

as one gets older one cannot distinguish genius
among new, younger men (‘purchase woollen underwear because of the damp stone’)
once you know how to observe them, it’s wise to

visit the dead in their triangular sitting rooms
wives typing forgotten names that no longer exist
I think it’s awfully dangerous to give general advice

to revolutionaries weeping over a cat that’s gone wrong
a force without its limitations, once
you know how to observe them, it’s wise to violate

the laughing sources, common as speech, essential and permanent
and gloomy indeed, I think
it’s awfully dangerous to give general advice
once you know how to observe them, it’s wise to violate rules

 

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