Wednesday, January 1, 2014

T. S. Eliot


    Ash Wednesday
    by T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)


    Because I do not hope to turn again
    Because I do not hope
    Because I do not hope to turn
    Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
    I no longer strive to strive towards such things
    (Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
    Why should I mourn
    The vanished power of the usual reign?

    Because I do not hope to know again
    The infirm glory of the positive hour
    Because I do not think
    Because I know I shall not know
    The one veritable transitory power
    Because I cannot drink
    There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

    Because I know that time is always time
    And place is always and only place
    And what is actual is actual only for one time
    And only for one place
    I rejoice that things are as they are and
    I renounce the blessed face
    And renounce the voice
    Because I cannot hope to turn again
    Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
    Upon which to rejoice

    And pray to God to have mercy upon us
    And pray that I may forget
    These matters that with myself I too much discuss
    Too much explain
    Because I do not hope to turn again
    Let these words answer
    For what is done, not to be done again
    May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

    Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
    But merely vans to beat the air
    The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
    Smaller and dryer than the will
    Teach us to care and not to care
    Teach us to sit still.

    Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
    Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.


    Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper-tree
    In the cool of the day, having fed to satiety
    On my legs my heart my liver and that which had been contained
    In the hollow round of my skull. And God said
    Shall these bones live? Shall these
    Bones live? And that which had been contained
    In the bones (which were already dry) said chirping:
    Because of the goodness of this Lady
    And because of her loveliness, and because
    She honours the Virgin in meditation,
    We shine with brightness. And I who am here dissembled
    Proffer my deeds to oblivion, and my love
    To the posterity of the desert and the fruit of the gourd.
    It is this which recovers
    My guts the strings of my eyes and the indigestible portions
    Which the leopards reject. The Lady is withdrawn
    In a white gown, to contemplation, in a white gown.
    Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgetfulness.
    There is no life in them. As I am forgotten
    And would be forgotten, so I would forget
    Thus devoted, concentrated in purpose. And God said
    Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only
    The wind will listen. And the bones sang chirping
    With the burden of the grasshopper, saying

    Lady of silences
    Calm and distressed
    Torn and most whole
    Rose of memory
    Rose of forgetfulness
    Exhausted and life-giving
    Worried reposeful
    The single Rose
    Is now the Garden
    Where all loves end
    Terminate torment
    Of love unsatisfied
    The greater torment
    Of love satisfied
    End of the endless
    Journey to no end
    Conclusion of all that
    Is inconclusible
    Speech without word and
    Word of no speech
    Grace to the Mother
    For the Garden
    Where all love ends.

    Under a juniper-tree the bones sang, scattered and shining
    We are glad to be scattered, we did little good to each other,
    Under a tree in the cool of the day, with the blessing of sand,
    Forgetting themselves and each other, united
    In the quiet of the desert. This is the land which ye
    Shall divide by lot. And neither division nor unity
    Matters. This is the land. We have our inheritance.


    At the first turning of the second stair
    I turned and saw below
    The same shape twisted on the banister
    Under the vapour in the fetid air
    Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears
    The deceitul face of hope and of despair.

    At the second turning of the second stair
    I left them twisting, turning below;
    There were no more faces and the stair was dark,
    Damp, jagged, like an old man’s mouth drivelling, beyond repair,
    Or the toothed gullet of an aged shark.

    At the first turning of the third stair
    Was a slotted window bellied like the figs’s fruit
    And beyond the hawthorn blossom and a pasture scene
    The broadbacked figure drest in blue and green
    Enchanted the maytime with an antique flute.
    Blown hair is sweet, brown hair over the mouth blown,
    Lilac and brown hair;
    Distraction, music of the flute, stops and steps of the mind over the third stair,
    Fading, fading; strength beyond hope and despair
    Climbing the third stair.

    Lord, I am not worthy
    Lord, I am not worthy
    but speak the word only.


    Who walked between the violet and the violet
    Who walked between
    The various ranks of varied green
    Going in white and blue, in Mary’s colour,
    Talking of trivial things
    In ignorance and knowledge of eternal dolour
    Who moved among the others as they walked,
    Who then made strong the fountains and made fresh the springs

    Made cool the dry rock and made firm the sand
    In blue of larkspur, blue of Mary’s colour,
    Sovegna vos

    Here are the years that walk between, bearing
    Away the fiddles and the flutes, restoring
    One who moves in the time between sleep and waking, wearing

    White light folded, sheathing about her, folded.
    The new years walk, restoring
    Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring
    With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem
    The time. Redeem
    The unread vision in the higher dream
    While jewelled unicorns draw by the gilded hearse.

    The silent sister veiled in white and blue
    Between the yews, behind the garden god,
    Whose flute is breathless, bent her head and signed but spoke no word

    But the fountain sprang up and the bird sang down
    Redeem the time, redeem the dream
    The token of the word unheard, unspoken

    Till the wind shake a thousand whispers from the yew

    And after this our exile


    If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
    If the unheard, unspoken
    Word is unspoken, unheard;
    Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
    The Word without a word, the Word within
    The world and for the world;
    And the light shone in darkness and
    Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
    About the centre of the silent Word.

    O my people, what have I done unto thee.

    Where shall the word be found, where will the word
    Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
    Not on the sea or on the islands, not
    On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,
    For those who walk in darkness
    Both in the day time and in the night time
    The right time and the right place are not here
    No place of grace for those who avoid the face
    No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice

    Will the veiled sister pray for
    Those who walk in darkness, who chose thee and oppose thee,
    Those who are torn on the horn between season and season, time and time, between
    Hour and hour, word and word, power and power, those who wait
    In darkness? Will the veiled sister pray
    For children at the gate
    Who will not go away and cannot pray:
    Pray for those who chose and oppose

    O my people, what have I done unto thee.

    Will the veiled sister between the slender
    Yew trees pray for those who offend her
    And are terrified and cannot surrender
    And affirm before the world and deny between the rocks
    In the last desert before the last blue rocks
    The desert in the garden the garden in the desert
    Of drouth, spitting from the mouth the withered apple-seed.

    O my people.


    Although I do not hope to turn again
    Although I do not hope
    Although I do not hope to turn

    Wavering between the profit and the loss
    In this brief transit where the dreams cross
    The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying
    (Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things
    From the wide window towards the granite shore
    The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying
    Unbroken wings

    And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
    In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
    And the weak spirit quickens to rebel
    For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell
    Quickens to recover
    The cry of quail and the whirling plover
    And the blind eye creates
    The empty forms between the ivory gates
    And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth
    This is the time of tension between dying and birth
    The place of solitude where three dreams cross
    Between blue rocks
    But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away
    Let the other yew be shaken and reply.

    Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
    Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
    Teach us to care and not to care
    Teach us to sit still
    Even among these rocks,
    Our peace in His will
    And even among these rocks
    Sister, mother
    And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
    Suffer me not to be separated

    And let my cry come unto Thee.


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