Burnt Norton

Time present and time pastAre both perhaps present in time futureAnd time future contained in time past.If all time is eternally presentAll time is unredeemable.What might have been is an abstractionRemaining a perpetual possibilityOnly in a world of speculation.What might have been and what has beenPoint to one end, which is always present.Footfalls echo in the memoryDown the passage which we did not takeTowards the door we never openedInto the rose-garden. My words echoThus, in your mind.                                   But to what purposeDisturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leavesI do not know.                                   Other echoesInhabit the garden. Shall we follow?Quick, said the bird, find them, find them,Round the corner. Through the first gate,Into our first world, shall we followThe deception of the thrush? Into our first world.There they were, dignified, invisible,Moving without pressure, over the dead leaves,In the autumn heat, through the vibrant air,And the bird called, in response toThe unheard music hidden in the shrubbery,And the unseen eyebeam crossed, for the rosesHad the look of flowers that are looked at.There they were as our guests, accepted and accepting.So we moved, and they, in a formal pattern,Along the empty alley, into the box circle,To look down into the drained pool.Dry the pool, dry concrete, brown edged,And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight,And the lotos rose, quietly, quietly,The surface glittered out of heart of light,And they were behind us, reflected in the pool.Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.Go, go, go, said the bird: human kindCannot bear very much reality.Time past and time futureWhat might have been and what has beenPoint to one end, which is always present.
Garlic and sapphires in the mudClot the bedded axle-tree.The thrilling wire in the bloodSings below inveterate scarsAppeasing long forgotten wars.The dance along the arteryThe circulation of the lymphAre figured in the drift of starsAscend to summer in the treeWe move above the moving treeIn light upon the figured leafAnd hear upon the sodden floorBelow, the boarhound and the boarPursue their pattern as beforeBut reconciled among the stars.
At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.The inner freedom from the practical desire,The release from action and suffering, release from the innerAnd the outer compulsion, yet surroundedBy a grace of sense, a white light still and moving,Erhebung without motion, concentrationWithout elimination, both a new worldAnd the old made explicit, understoodIn the completion of its partial ecstasy,The resolution of its partial horror.Yet the enchainment of past and futureWoven in the weakness of the changing body,Protects mankind from heaven and damnationWhich flesh cannot endure.                                                    Time past and time futureAllow but a little consciousness.To be conscious is not to be in timeBut only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,The moment in the draughty church at smokefallBe remembered; involved with past and future.Only through time time is conquered.
Here is a place of disaffectionTime before and time afterIn a dim light: neither daylightInvesting form with lucid stillnessTurning shadow into transient beautyWtih slow rotation suggesting permanenceNor darkness to purify the soulEmptying the sensual with deprivationCleansing affection from the temporal.Neither plentitude nor vacancy. Only a flickerOver the strained time-ridden facesDistracted from distraction by distractionFilled with fancies and empty of meaningTumid apathy with no concentrationMen and bits of paper, whirled by the cold windThat blows before and after time,Wind in and out of unwholesome lungsTime before and time after.Eructation of unhealthy soulsInto the faded air, the torpidDriven on the wind that sweeps the gloomy hills of London,Hampstead and Clerkenwell, Campden and Putney,Highgate, Primrose and Ludgate. Not hereNot here the darkness, in this twittering world.
      Descend lower, descend onlyInto the world of perpetual solitude,World not world, but that which is not world,Internal darkness, deprivationAnd destitution of all property,Dessication of the world of sense,Evacuation of the world of fancy,Inoperancy of the world of spirit;This is the one way, and the otherIs the same, not in movementBut abstention from movememnt; while the world movesIn appetency, on its metalled waysOf time past and time future.
Time and the bell have buried the day,the black cloud carries the sun away.Will the sunflower turn to us, will the clematisStray down, bend to us; tendril and sprayClutch and cling?ChillFingers of yew be curledDown on us? After the kingfisher's wingHas answered light to light, and is silent, the light is stillAt the still point of the turning world.
Words move, music movesOnly in time; but that which is only livingCan only die. Words, after speech, reachInto the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,Can words or music reachThe stillness, as a Chinese jar stillMoves perpetually in its stillness.Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts,Not that only, but the co-existence,Or say that the end precedes the beginning,And the end and the beginning were always thereBefore the beginning and after the end.And all is always now. Words strain,Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,Will not stay still. Shrieking voicesScolding, mocking, or merely chattering,Always assail them. The Word in the desertIs most attacked by voices of temptation,The crying shadow in the funeral dance,The loud lament of the disconsolate chimera.
      The detail of the pattern is movement,As in the figure of the ten stairs.Desire itself is movementNot in itself desirable;Love is itself unmoving,Only the cause and end of movement,Timeless, and undesiringExcept in the aspect of timeCaught in the form of limitationBetween un-being and being.Sudden in a shaft of sunlightEven while the dust movesThere rises the hidden laughterOf children in the foliageQuick now, here, now, always-Ridiculous the waste sad timeStretching before and after.

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