'Four Quartets 2: East Coker' by T.S. Eliot

AI and Tech Aggregator
Download Mp3s Free
Tears of the Kingdom Roleplay
Best Free University Courses Online
TOTK Roleplay


In my beginning is my end. In succession
Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended,
Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place
Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass.
Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires,
Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth
Which is already flesh, fur and faeces,
Bone of man and beast, cornstalk and leaf.
Houses live and die: there is a time for building
And a time for living and for generation
And a time for the wind to break the loosened pane
And to shake the wainscot where the field-mouse trots
And to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto.

In my beginning is my end. Now the light falls
Across the open field, leaving the deep lane
Shuttered with branches, dark in the afternoon,
Where you lean against a bank while a van passes,
And the deep lane insists on the direction
Into the village, in the electric heat
Hypnotised. In a warm haze the sultry light
Is absorbed, not refracted, by grey stone.
The dahlias sleep in the empty silence.
Wait for the early owl.

In that open field
If you do not come too close, if you do not come too close,
On a summer midnight, you can hear the music
Of the weak pipe and the little drum
And see them dancing around the bonfire
The association of man and woman
In daunsinge, signifying matrimonie—
A dignified and commodiois sacrament.
Two and two, necessarye coniunction,
Holding eche other by the hand or the arm
Whiche betokeneth concorde. Round and round the fire
Leaping through the flames, or joined in circles,
Rustically solemn or in rustic laughter
Lifting heavy feet in clumsy shoes,
Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth
Mirth of those long since under earth
Nourishing the corn. Keeping time,
Keeping the rhythm in their dancing
As in their living in the living seasons
The time of the seasons and the constellations
The time of milking and the time of harvest
The time of the coupling of man and woman
And that of beasts. Feet rising and falling.
Eating and drinking. Dung and death.

Dawn points, and another day
Prepares for heat and silence. Out at sea the dawn wind
Wrinkles and slides. I am here
Or there, or elsewhere. In my beginning.


What is the late November doing
With the disturbance of the spring
And creatures of the summer heat,
And snowdrops writhing under feet
And hollyhocks that aim too high
Red into grey and tumble down
Late roses filled with early snow?
Thunder rolled by the rolling stars
Simulates triumphal cars
Deployed in constellated wars
Scorpion fights against the Sun
Until the Sun and Moon go down
Comets weep and Leonids fly
Hunt the heavens and the plains
Whirled in a vortex that shall bring
The world to that destructive fire
Which burns before the ice-cap reigns.

That was a way of putting it—not very satisfactory:
A periphrastic study in a worn-out poetical fashion,
Leaving one still with the intolerable wrestle
With words and meanings. The poetry does not matter.
It was not (to start again) what one had expected.
What was to be the value of the long looked forward to,
Long hoped for calm, the autumnal serenity
And the wisdom of age? Had they deceived us
Or deceived themselves, the quiet-voiced elders,
Bequeathing us merely a receipt for deceit?
The serenity only a deliberate hebetude,
The wisdom only the knowledge of dead secrets
Useless in the darkness into which they peered
Or from which they turned their eyes. There is, it seems to us,
At best, only a limited value
In the knowledge derived from experience.
The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies,
For the pattern is new in every moment
And every moment is a new and shocking
Valuation of all we have been. We are only undeceived
Of that which, deceiving, could no longer harm.
In the middle, not only in the middle of the way
But all the way, in a dark wood, in a bramble,
On the edge of a grimpen, where is no secure foothold,
And menaced by monsters, fancy lights,
Risking enchantment. Do not let me hear
Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,
Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,
Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.

The houses are all gone under the sea.

The dancers are all gone under the hill.


O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark,
The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant,
The captains, merchant bankers, eminent men of letters,
The generous patrons of art, the statesmen and the rulers,
Distinguished civil servants, chairmen of many committees,
Industrial lords and petty contractors, all go into the dark,
And dark the Sun and Moon, and the Almanach de Gotha
And the Stock Exchange Gazette, the Directory of Directors,
And cold the sense and lost the motive of action.
And we all go with them, into the silent funeral,
Nobody's funeral, for there is no one to bury.
I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness,
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing façade are all being rolled away—
Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations
And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence
And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen
Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about;
Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing—
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.
The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry,
The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy
Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony
Of death and birth.

You say I am repeating
Something I have said before. I shall say it again.
Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.


The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer's art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind of our, and Adam's curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

The whole earth is our hospital
Endowed by the ruined millionaire,
Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.

The chill ascends from feet to knees,
The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze
And quake in frigid purgatorial fires
Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.

The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood—
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.


So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years—
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l'entre deux guerres
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate—but there is no competition—
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Four Quartets 2: East Coker by T.S. Eliot

Are you looking for a poem that speaks to the human condition in a profound way? Do you want a work that is both beautiful and insightful, that explores the nature of time, memory, and mortality? Look no further than T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets, and in particular, the second poem in the sequence, East Coker.

In this work, Eliot explores themes that are central to human experience, such as the cyclical nature of time, the inevitability of death, and the search for meaning and transcendence. He does this through a complex web of allusions, images, and symbols, drawing on a vast range of cultural and philosophical traditions.

Structure and Form

Let's start by looking at the structure and form of the poem. East Coker is divided into five sections, each comprising a different number of stanzas and lines. The first and last sections are the shortest, with only three and two stanzas respectively, while the middle three sections are longer, with six, seven, and four stanzas respectively.

The poem is written in blank verse, with no regular rhyme scheme or meter. This gives Eliot a great deal of freedom to manipulate the language and structure of his lines, allowing him to create a rich and varied texture of sound and meaning.

Themes and Motifs

One of the central themes of East Coker is the cyclical nature of time. Eliot begins the poem by describing the return of spring, a time of renewal and rebirth:

In my beginning is my end. In succession
Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended,
Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place
Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass.

This opening stanza sets the tone for much of the poem, as Eliot explores the ways in which the past is always present, and the future always contains echoes of the past. He writes about the cycles of nature, the turning of the seasons, and the cycles of human history, with its rise and fall of empires and civilizations.

Another important theme in East Coker is the inevitability of death. Eliot writes about the darkness that lies at the heart of human existence, the "emptiness and the despair" that we all must face. He reflects on the fragility of life, and the fact that even the greatest achievements of human civilization are ultimately fleeting and insignificant in the face of mortality.

At the same time, Eliot also explores the search for meaning and transcendence that lies at the heart of human experience. He writes about the quest for spiritual enlightenment, the desire for connection with something greater than ourselves, and the hope for redemption and renewal.

Throughout the poem, Eliot makes use of a wide range of motifs and symbols to convey these themes. For example, he frequently uses images of light and darkness, representing the contrast between hope and despair, life and death. He also makes use of natural imagery, such as trees, flowers, and birds, to evoke the cycles of nature and the passing of time.

Allusions and References

One of the most striking features of East Coker is Eliot's use of allusions and references to a wide range of cultural and philosophical traditions. He draws on everything from the Bible to Buddhist philosophy to Shakespeare, weaving together a rich tapestry of ideas and images that invites the reader to explore the poem on multiple levels.

For example, in the opening stanza, Eliot alludes to the Book of Common Prayer, a foundational text of the Anglican Church, which begins with the words "In the beginning was the Word". This reference is just one of many examples of Eliot's use of religious and philosophical ideas throughout the poem.

Eliot also frequently references the work of other writers and poets, such as Dante and Shakespeare. In the fourth section of the poem, for example, he alludes to Shakespeare's play The Tempest, using the line "We are such stuff as dreams are made on" to evoke the transience of human existence.


So what can we take away from our analysis of East Coker? What is Eliot trying to say in this complex and elusive work?

At its core, East Coker is a meditation on the human condition, on the cyclical nature of time, the inevitability of death, and the search for meaning and transcendence. Eliot uses a wide range of symbols, images, and references to explore these themes, drawing on a vast array of cultural and philosophical traditions.

Ultimately, East Coker is a work that challenges the reader to probe deeply into their own experiences and beliefs, to confront the darkness and despair that lies at the heart of human existence, and to search for the hope and redemption that lie beyond. It is a work that rewards careful study and contemplation, and that continues to resonate with readers today, more than 70 years after its initial publication.


In conclusion, T.S. Eliot's East Coker is a complex and challenging work that explores the nature of time, memory, and mortality in profound and insightful ways. Through its use of symbols, images, and references, the poem invites the reader to probe deeply into their own experiences and beliefs, and to confront the darkness and despair that lies at the heart of human existence. If you are looking for a work of poetry that is both beautiful and thought-provoking, that speaks to the deepest questions of human experience, you cannot do better than East Coker.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Four Quartets 2: East Coker - A Masterpiece by T.S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, wrote Four Quartets, a series of four poems that are considered his magnum opus. The second poem in the series, East Coker, is a masterpiece that explores the themes of time, death, and rebirth. In this article, we will delve into the poem and analyze its various aspects.

The poem begins with the lines, "In my beginning is my end. In succession / Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended, / Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place / Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass." These lines set the tone for the rest of the poem, as they introduce the idea of cyclical time. Eliot suggests that everything that begins must eventually end, and that this cycle of birth and death is an inherent part of the universe.

The poem then moves on to describe the village of East Coker, which is Eliot's ancestral home. He writes, "The village in the morning sun is quiet, / And the world is waiting for the sunrise." These lines create a sense of stillness and anticipation, as if the world is holding its breath, waiting for something to happen.

Eliot then goes on to describe the history of East Coker, and how it has changed over time. He writes, "The years shall run like rabbits, / For in my arms I hold / The Flower of the Ages, / And the first love of the world." These lines suggest that time is fleeting, and that the past is always present in the present. Eliot also introduces the idea of the "Flower of the Ages," which represents the eternal and unchanging aspects of the universe.

The poem then takes a darker turn, as Eliot explores the theme of death. He writes, "The tolling bell / Measures time not our time, rung by the unhurried / Ground swell, a time / Older than the time of chronometers." These lines suggest that death is a natural part of the universe, and that it operates on a different timescale than human time. Eliot also introduces the idea of the "ground swell," which represents the deep and powerful forces that underlie the universe.

Eliot then moves on to explore the theme of rebirth. He writes, "In my end is my beginning." These lines suggest that death is not the end, but rather a new beginning. Eliot also introduces the idea of the "still point," which represents a moment of stillness and clarity in the midst of the chaos of life.

The poem then concludes with the lines, "And the fire and the rose are one." These lines suggest that the universe is a unity, and that all things are interconnected. The "fire" represents the destructive and transformative aspects of the universe, while the "rose" represents the beauty and harmony that can emerge from that destruction.

In conclusion, Four Quartets 2: East Coker is a masterpiece that explores the themes of time, death, and rebirth. Eliot's use of language and imagery is masterful, and he creates a sense of deep time and cosmic significance. The poem is a meditation on the nature of existence, and it invites the reader to contemplate the mysteries of the universe. If you have not yet read this poem, I highly recommend that you do so. It is a work of art that will stay with you long after you have finished reading it.

Editor Recommended Sites

GraphStorm: Graphstorm framework by AWS fan page, best practice, tutorials
Defi Market: Learn about defi tooling for decentralized storefronts
Lessons Learned: Lessons learned from engineering stories, and cloud migrations
Visual Novels: AI generated visual novels with LLMs for the text and latent generative models for the images
Witcher 4: Speculation on projekt red's upcoming games

Recommended Similar Analysis

Sestina : Altaforte by Ezra Pound analysis
In Paths Untrodden by Walt Whitman analysis
Life In A Love by Robert Browning analysis
Alone by Sarah Teasdale analysis
The Sands of Dee by Charles Kingsley analysis
On Turning Ten by Billy Collins analysis
A Virginal by Ezra Pound analysis
Friendship by Henry David Thoreau analysis
The Power of the Dog by Rudyard Kipling analysis
Our Bog Is Dood by Stevie Smith analysis