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Ash Wednesday

Written by: Thomas Stearns Eliot (T S) Eliot | Biography
 | Quotes (35) |
 I

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 agèd eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know
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 blessèd 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.
II Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper-tree In the cool of the day, having fed to sateity 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The Lady is withdrawn In a white gown, to contemplation, in a white gown.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 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.
III 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, jaggèd, like an old man's mouth drivelling, beyond repair, Or the toothed gullet of an agèd 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.
IV Who walked between the violet and the violet Whe 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 V 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.
VI 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.
Blessèd 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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