Archive for Burnt Norton

Time Present and Time Past

Posted in Poetry with tags , , on June 6, 2011 by telescoper

Up early this morning to set off for the airport. No time for a proper post until I get to Copenhagen so I thought I’d just put this up, as it popped into my mind after I’d written yesterday’s item. I’m a bit reluctant to post a bit of a poem, rather than a whole one, but here goes.  This is the opening passage from Burnt Norton, the first of the Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot. If you haven’t read the whole thing, you should.

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden.