Discuss the subject of time in T.S. Eliot's "Burnt Norton."   

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Time is a powerful entity in T.S. Eliot's "Burnt Norton," the first of his Four Quartets. Eliot portrays time as fluid, always moving, extending into the future while also doubling back on itself. In this way, time is like a dance partner to man. Man sometimes takes the lead, but at other points time manipulates man. Eliot acknowledges this beautifully tragic partnership in the second section of the poem when he notes that "there is only the dance." So time becomes personified in the poem, an entity on par with man—or even greater than man. Indeed, time can be seen as a godhead in the poem. Eliot speaks of time as tripartite: time past, time present, and time future. With this, Eliot makes time directly comparable to the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. Eliot also gives time god-like powers in the poem. Time can create and time can destroy. Time brings about the budding of a flower, but of course, time will also cause the flower's decay. The human face can take this passage of time in as the flower is looked at, while at the same time, time marks lines "over the strained time-ridden faces" of human beings. Ultimately, time is such an enormous entity in "Burnt Norton" that it is hard to pin down, hard to describe, hard to label, hard to name, just as god is hard to name (and in some religions, it is taboo to even try to name god). "Words strain" to describe time, Eliot admits, so in his poem time remains a mysterious trickster, a shape-shifter, a god that, as the Greek gods often did (and Eliot's poetry is steeped in Greek mythology), could take many forms.

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