PZI Teacher Archives

Ceremonies: Long Readings for Afternoon: From Four Quartets – T.S. Eliot


From Four Quartets —T.S. Eliot   What we call the beginning is often the end,  […]

From Four Quartets

—T.S. Eliot


What we call the beginning is often the end, 

And to make an 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.