Excerpts

Little Gidding| No. 4 of ‘Four Quartets’|

T.S. Eliot

 

V

 

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 simplicit

(Costing not less than everything)

And all shall be well …

 

 

[Not completely sure of the full meaning of the poem- perhaps the english/history majors among us may be able to help]

 

But, for the few