Monday, February 22, 2010

Beyond hope and despair

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.
--T. S. Eliot, Ash Wednesday

The speaker has ascended, whether Jacob's ladder or the ascent to Zion, and moved from the darkness he left below toward light. There is a window, shaped to suggest fecundity. There are blossoms and the colors of sky and greenery, music, blowing breezes to replace the fetid air below. Hope and despair are transcended and we hear the words uttered before receiving Holy Communion.

Lord, I am not worthy... but speak the word only.

We have come to a graced place, a graced state.

To get there we have let go, we have gone beyond death. We have relinquished hope and also despair. We have thrown ourselves upon God. Unworthy, we nonetheless are ready to receive the food of angels, the shared life of God, Godself.

--the BB


Göran Koch-Swahne said...


author said...

Amazing. Wish I could put people in this hushed place with my writing.

Paul said...

I do love Eliot's poems. Even when I do not understand them, I love them.