A Poem for National Poetry Day

Nothing to do with crime. I did consider Browning’s My Last Duchess which would have at least contained the hint of a murder but occasionally it’s nice to go off piste. So here’s a section from my favourite poem ever, TS Eliot’s Four Quartets. It’s taken from the final section of the last Quartet, Little Gidding. I hope you enjoy it and feel inspired to post a poem of your own. Happy National Poetry Day!Little Gidding

From Little Gidding

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 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.

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10 thoughts on “A Poem for National Poetry Day

  1. It took my English lit teacher years to get me to appreciate Eliot but I got there in the end – a very fitting post – and now I’m going to investigate whether or not we have our own National Poetry day. And if not…why not.

  2. Oh how lovely! I’ve only just found it is National Poetry Day, but I’ll try to post a late poem tomorrow. In the meantime, I took enormous pleasure in this: Eliot is a wonderful poet and this is beautiful.

  3. Sarah, it was this time last year when I discovered your blog. Margot had done a post on poetry in mysteries and cited your post on National Poetry Day as inspiration. So I checked out your blog and found many reviews there that interested me. It was a lucky day for me and I have enjoyed reading your posts since then.

    This is a very nice section from Little Gidding. Sad but uplifting.

    • Thanks for your lovely comment Tracy. It’s been so nice to get to know you through your blog too. My reading (and TBR pile) has increased enormously! Glad we have a mutual love of poetry.

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