yet the words sufficed
To compel the recognition they preceded.
And so, compliant to the common wind,
Too strange to each other for misunderstanding,
In concord at this intersection time
Of meeting nowhere, no before and after,
We trod the pavement in a dead patrol.

I ask because I'm never certain how to pronounce this word in the context. (I suspect this was Eliot's intention, but my assumption is based on the theme and conflicting "hints".)

Wind, as in moving air, seems to be the reasonable choice, and implied by:

While the dead leaves still rattled on like tin
Over the asphalt where no other sound was

and a few lines later:

I met one walking, loitering and hurried
As if blown towards me like the metal leaves
Before the urban dawn wind unresisting.

Alternately, wind, as in a Yeatsian gyre*, provides an attractive "near rhyme", and may be implied by:

We trod the pavement in a dead patrol

because a patrol is generally understood as to "keep watch over (an area) by regularly walking or traveling around."

I wouldn't expect most readers to hold with this second option, however, the Four Quartets begin:

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.

which is pretty darn cyclic.

*The Second Coming was published in 1919, about 15 years before Eliot began working on the first Quartet, Burnt Norton.

  • 1
    Shakespeare rhymes "wind" and "kind" in "Blow, blow thou winter wind". I believe such poetical pronunciation was used, at least into 19th century poetry, so perhaps that is what Eliot intended.
    – mikado
    Jul 1, 2017 at 7:50
  • Great point! It may have even been an indication of dual pronunciations, in the same the way many words in the poems have dual meanings, such as "passage" in this verse.
    – DukeZhou
    Jul 1, 2017 at 16:37
  • 1
    Related on ELU: What does the word “wind” mean in this John Donne poem?
    – sumelic
    Jul 1, 2017 at 18:22
  • @sumelic Thanks for that link. Janus Bahs Jacquet's answer is information rich and on-point. Very instructive!
    – DukeZhou
    Jul 2, 2017 at 20:27

1 Answer 1


It is "wind" as in moving air; you can hear Eliot himself reading the Quartets here, with the line in question at minute 45:38.

  • Thanks for the answer, Liz! I'm not sure if you're aware, but you can link to precise portions of YouTube clips; I've edited your post to include one such link to the time you mentioned. Nice find!
    – Shokhet
    Jul 14, 2017 at 19:09
  • 1
    Thanks for posting! (Although I'm a huge fan of Eliot, and learned a lot about the craft of poetry by careful study of this poem, I'm not a huge fan of his delivery;) But this is a very good answer, and definitely demonstrates how he felt it should be pronounced.
    – DukeZhou
    Jul 14, 2017 at 19:16
  • 1
    Cheers, Shokhet! I know what you mean, DukeZhou; that early-to-mid 20th c. style of recitation is hard to get next to. It may interest you to check out Yeats' recording of Lake Isle of Innisfree. An example of the same rhythm-emphatic read but influenced by a very different verbal culture.
    – Buzz
    Jul 14, 2017 at 19:25
  • Hey, Liz. Notifying people in comments is a little complicated; see here for more info. I suspect that @DukeZhou may not have seen your response to their comment.
    – Shokhet
    Jul 14, 2017 at 20:59
  • This answer is a good start, but it could be improved with an argument based on the text as to why the correct pronunciation is "wind as in moving air". See this site's discussions of authorial intent, e.g. this question: literature.stackexchange.com/questions/2009/…
    – user111
    Jul 15, 2017 at 17:46

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