How is the image of the desert used in "Choruses from The Rock?"
The world turns and the world changes,
But one thing does not change.
In all of my years, one thing does not change,
However you disguise it, this thing does not change:
The perpetual struggle of Good and Evil.
Forgetful, you neglect your shrines and churches;
The men you are in these times deride
What has been done of good, you find explanations
To satisfy the rational and enlightened mind.
Second, you neglect and belittle the desert.
The desert is not remote in southern tropics
The desert is not only around the corner,
The desert is squeezed in the tube-train next to you,
The desert is in the heart of your brother.
The good man is the builder, if he build what is good.
I will show you the things that are not being done,
And some of the things that were long ago done,
That you may take heart, Make perfect your will.
Let me show you the work of the humble. Listen
The poem in question, T. S.Eliot's "Choruses from the Rock," speaks to the idea of of sin and solid foundations in life.
Mat 7:24-27 (NIV): "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
Essentially, the image of the desert is one which allows readers to understand that the desert, like weak foundations and sin, is everywhere. According to the poem, the desert is "not remote in southern tropics," "not only around the corner, "squeezed in the tube-train next to you" and "in the heart of your brother." Instead, according to the inference made when reading the poem, the desert exists in places where close to home (assuming the tropics are not close), at home and far away (given they are not around the corner), sitting right next to a person, and can even be found in one's brother.
Therefore, the image of the desert defines that sin and weak foundations are found everywhere, in places one both expects and does not expect. Unlike the tropics, which some may believe are fantastic, the sand which surrounds us is everywhere.