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Ash Wednesday Analysis



Author: poem of T.S. Eliot Type: poem Views: 25



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 The Lady is withdrawn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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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||




.: :.

• I. Because of doubt, the springs of action are dried up; hence the speaker, having no hope, can turn neither to the world nor to God. In possible states of mind it represents the extreme state of despair. Having renounced both the world and the hope of salvation, he goes on in Part II to construct out of death something upon which to rejoice.
• II. He has begun to “construct something”, to pass beyond despair. In death, he sees a release from his lusts and in the love, which his death reveals, he has found a form of triumph over self.
• III. ‘Ascent’ is the way of realising the higher love in the poem. This is a vision of ascension, through which he travels through a trial of despair and a trial of hope. He eventually reaches “strength beyond hope and despair”.
• IV. The Lady becomes the Mother of the Garden, who provides the speaker with a vision of regeneration to help grow his faith. The provision which the Lady will give will be the fruit, and in effect, “the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus”.
• V. Deals with the revelation of the Word in the present world. The Word remains, even though the world and man is against it. The speaker asserts the dire need for Grace and confirms the presence of the highest love, “O my people”. He expresses his agonized concern with his dilemma. The difficulty of turning to God.
• VI. The lusts of nature and for the world are renewed, where he found no appeal in Part I. The reversal is now complete: where he could turn neither to the world nor to God, and now although he can turn to the world, he desires to turn to God. The contrasts of Parts I and VI emphasises the change of will which is the significant development of the poem. For the poem describes stages of despair, self-renunciation, moral recovery, renewed faith, need of grace, and renewal of the will both toward the world and God. Part VI is not a paradox, but a revelation of the basic weakness of his despair in Part I.
• Emotionally, Ash Wednesday develops his experience of love in relation to its various incarnations, marked by an ascent from lower to higher.

| Posted on 2009-11-15 | by a guest




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