Archive for Four Quartets

To make an end is to make a beginning

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , on January 1, 2014 by telescoper

So, it’s New Year’s Day again. I’d like to take the opportunity to convey my very best wishes to everyone who follows this blog and to thank you all for showing an interest in my ramblings.

The beginning of a new year seems an appropriate time to post something from T.S. Eliot’s remarkable poetic meditation on the redemptive nature of time, Four Quartets. This is the last section, Part V, of the last of the four poems, Little Gidding.

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
The common word exact without vulgarity,
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together)
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph. And any action
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea’s throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.
We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them.
The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree
Are of equal duration. A people without history
Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
Of timeless moments. So, while the light fails
On a winter’s afternoon, in a secluded chapel
History is now and England.

With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this
     Calling

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

Little Gidding, Part V, the last of the Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot.

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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.