What Was Eliot Going on About?

Garlic and sapphires in the mud
Clot the bedded axle-tree.
-- TS Eliot, from Burnt Norton

Back in high school, I hated English lit. The classics, and their characters, seemed constipated. Symbolism and hidden meanings flew by me without even a tickle. Deconstructing text did nothing but break my concentration and cause my thoughts to flitter elsewhere. For me, reading was purely about escapism, and harping on why Teresa really liked to paint yellow pumpkins was not the way to get lost in a story.

Unfortunately, the passage above came up in conversation yesterday and is now driving me nuts. I spent a good hour searching online for a nice, straightfoward answer, but no one seems able to agree on what Eliot really meant.

Won't someone shed some light on my illiterate soul?

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