The Beginning is the End, and the End is the Beginning

T.S. Eliot has produced phenomenal works with his words. It is no wonder as to why he is revered as one of the 20th century’s most venerated poets. This is an excerpt from Little Gidding (No. 4 of ‘Four Quartets’). Not only beautifully composed, the astuteness of his message to analyze the role of endings themselves resounded strongly with me. History does not reside singularly in the past, but in the present. I wanted to share it here.

Part V:
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 flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

T.S. Eliot

When we reach the end, there is a beginning. We start at the end. The beginning and the end are connected, and one must exist for the other. In the time after the end, we may reflect on the immensity of events in perspective of the recent past. We embrace its impacts on who we are in the beginning of what is next. The further we travel from the beginning, the clearer we align to who we are.

This analysis further acutely interprets the composition.

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