The Cocktail Party (1949)
- It will do you no harm to find yourself ridiculous.
- Resign yourself to be the fool you are.
- You will find that you survive humiliation
- And that's an experience of incalculable value.
- That is the worst moment, when you feel you have lost
- The desires for all that was most dersirable,
- Before you are contented with what you can desire;
- Before you know what is left to be desired;
- And you go on wishing that you could desire
- What desire has left behind. But you cannot understand.
- How could you understand what it is to feel old?
- We die to each other daily.
- What we know of other people
- Is only our memory of the moments
- During which we knew them. And they have changed since then.
- To pretend that they and we are the same
- Is a useful and convenient social convention
- Which must sometimes broken. We must also remember
- That at every meeting we are meeting a stranger.
- What is hell? Hell is oneself.
- Hell is alone, the other figures in it
- Merely projections. There is nothing to escape from
- And nothing to escape to. One is always alone.
- Half the harm that is done in this world
- Is due to people who want to feel important.
- They don't mean to do harm but the harm does not interest them.
- Or they do not see it, or they justify it
- Because they are absorbed in the endless struggle
- To think well of themselves.
- There are several symptoms
- Which must occur together, and to a marked degree,
- To qualify a patient for my sanitorium:
- And one of them is an honest mind. That is one of the causes of their suffering.
- To men of a certain type
- The suspicion that they are incapable of loving
- Is as disturbing to their self-esteem
- As, in cruder men, the fear of impotence.
- I should really like to think there's something wrong with me
- Because, if there isn't then there's something wrong,
- Or at least, very different from what it seemed to be,
- With the world itself and that's much more frightening!
- Everyone's alone or so it seems to me.
- They make noises, and think they are talking to each other;
- They make faces, and think they understand each other.
- And I'm sure they don't. Is that a delusion?
- Can we only love
- Something created in our own imaginations?
- Are we all in fact unloving and unloveable?
- Then one is alone, and if one is alone
- Then lover and beloved are equally unreal
- And the dreamer is no more real than his dreams.
- I shall be left with the inconsolable memory
- Of the treasure I went into the forest to find
- And never found, and which was not there
- And is perhaps not anywhere? But if not anywhere
- Why do I feel guilty at not having found it?
- Disillusion can become itself an illusion
- If we rest in it.
- Two people who know they do not understand each other,
- Breeding children whom they do not understand
- And who will never understand them.
- There is another way, if you have the courage.
- The first I could describe in familiar terms
- Because you have seen it, as we all have seen it,
- Illustrated, more or less, in lives of those about us.
- The second is unknown, and so requires faith
- The kind of faith that issues from despair.
- The destination cannot be described;
- You will know very little until you get there;
- You will journey blind. But the way leads towards possession
- Of what you have sought for in the wrong place.
- We must always take risks. That is our destiny.
- If we all were judged according to the consequences
- Of all our words and deeds, beyond the intention
- And beyond our limited understanding
- Of ourselves and others, we should all be condemned.
- Only by acceptance of the past will you alter its meaning.
- Every moment is a fresh beginning.
Murder in the Cathedral (1935)
Destiny waits in the hand of God, not in the hands of statesmen.
Only the fool, fixed in his folly, may think he can turn the wheel on which he turns.
- Unreal friendship may turn to real
- But real friendship, once ended, cannot be mended.
- The last temptation is the greatest treason:
- To do the right deed for the wrong reason.
- Servant of God has chance of greater sin
- And sorrow, than the man who serves a king.
A martyrdom is never the design of man; for the true martyr is he who has become the instrument of God, who has lost his will in the will of God, not lost it but found it, for he has found freedom in submission to God.
Human kind cannot bear very much reality.
- The church shall be open, even to our enemies.
- We are not here to triumph by fighting , by stratagem, or by resistance,
- Not to fight with beasts as men. We have fought the beast
- And have conquered. We have only to conquer
- Now, by suffering. This is the easier victory.
- For every life and every act
- Consequence of good and evil can be shown.
- And as in time results of many deeds are blended
- So good and evil in the end become confounded.
- In life there is not time to grieve long.
- O father, father
- Gone from us, lost to us,
- The church lies bereft,
- Desecrated, desolated.
- And the heathen shall build
- On the ruins
- Their world without God.
- I see it.
- I see it.
- April is the cruellest month, breeding
- Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
- Memory and desire, stirring
- Dull roots with spring rain.
- Unreal City,
- Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
- A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
- I had not thought death had undone so many.
- Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
- And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
- That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
- Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
- Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?
- There is shadow under this red rock
- (Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
- And I will show you something different from either
- Your shadow at morning striding behind you
- Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
- I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
- Under the firelight, under the brush, her hair
- Spread out in fiery points
- Glowed into words, then would be savagely still.
- The river's tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf
- Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind
- Crosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed.
- Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.
- The time is now propitious, as he guesses,
- The meal is ended, she is bored and tired,
- Endeavours to engage her in caresses
- Which still are unreproved, if undesired.
- Flushed and decided, he assaults at once;
- Exploring hands encounter no defence;
- His vanity requires no response,
- And makes a welcome of indifference.
- If there were only water amongst the rock
- Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit
- Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit
- There is not even silence in the mountains
- But dry sterile thunder without rain
- Who is the third who walks always beside you
- When I count, there are only you and I together
- But when I look ahead up the white road
- There is always another one walking beside you
- A woman drew her long black hair out tight
- And fiddled whisper music on those strings
- And bats with baby faces in the violet light
- Whistled, and beat their wings
- And crawled head downward down a blackened wall
- And upside down in air were towers
- Tolling reminiscent bells, that kept the hours
- And voices singing out of empty cisterns and exhausted wells.
- My friend, blood shaking my heart
- The awful daring of a moment's surrender
- Which an age of prudence can never retract
- By this, and this only, we have existed
- Which is not to be found in our obituaries
- Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider
- Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor
- In our empty rooms
- I have heard the key
- Turn in the door once and turn once only
- We think of the key, each in his prison
- Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison
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