Saturday, April 3, 2010

In My End is My Beginning

In My End is My Beginning, The Art of Thomas Cole

(Old Age, Thomas Cole)

What lies at the end of the river? the world as endless cavern, the barren land, and empty sea, there is no life in me, perhaps the river was the search for meaning in ourselves, the river was just the medium, in truth we were the Vision of the City, we were the insatiable temptation, now we are old, stripped of supposed life, but for the first moment we are truly young, truly in right relation to the light, the heavens burst open like a Father's arms, and our face for the first time gazes in the right direction, away from the darkness, the Father sends his Messenger to call us home, our Father is a King after all, and now that we are old there is not the awe of Eden, nor the lust for the City, nor the empty prayers forced in despair, but the eyes of a child who for the first time sees the face of his Father, not the Vision of the City, but the end of all "visions", for the light of truth dispels all pretensions at truth, when the King arrives the usurper flees, there is no life in me, it is here in the barren land, between Good Friday and Sunday Morning, that from the darkness of despair a Messenger comes, to preach Good News to the captives, to set our eyes to face the light, that arrives in just moments, there is only Life in Christ, He is the end of all vision and the first vision itself, the end of Romanticism and the first Romantic articulation, Romantic fullness, to cast out the empty Romantic, the City beyond the City, the light beyond the light that gives rise to the light. Sunday comes:

(Le Nozze Di Figaro Act 4 Ah Tutti Contenti, Mozart, from the film Amadeus)

The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre of pyre—
To be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and 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

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 flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

(Little Gidding, T.S. Eliot)

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