Murder in the Cathedral
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Murder in the Cathedral is a verse drama by T.S. Eliot, first performed in 1935, that portrays the assassination of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. Eliot drew heavily on the writing of Edward Grim, a clerk who was an eyewitness to the event.
- They speak better than they know, and beyond your understanding.
They know and do not know, what it is to act or suffer.
They know and do not know, that action is suffering
And suffering is action. Neither does the agent suffer
Nor the patient act. But both are fixed
In an eternal action, an eternal patience.
To which all must consent that it may be willed
And which all must suffer that they may will it,
That the pattern may subsist, for the pattern is the action
And the suffering, that the wheel may turn and still
Be forever still.
- Men learn little from others' experience.
But in the life of one man, never
The same time returns. Sever
The cord, shed the scale. Only
The fool, fixed in his folly, may think
He can turn the wheel on which he turns.
- Purpose is plain.
Endurance of friendship does not depend
Upon ourselves, but upon circumstance.
But circumstance is not undetermined.
Unreal friendship may turn to real
But real friendship, once ended, cannot be mended.
Sooner shall enmity turn to alliance.
The enmity that never knew friendship
Can sooner know accord.
- All things become less real, man passes
From unreality to unreality.
- God is leaving us, God is leaving us, more pang, more
pain, than birth or death.
- The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason.
- First Priest: But again, is it war or peace?
Messenger: Peace, but not the kiss of peace.
- Servant of God has chance of greater sin
And sorrow, than the man who serves a king.
For those who serve the greater cause may make the cause serve them,
Still doing right: and striving with political men
May make that cause political, not by what they do
But by what they are.
- Saints are not made by accident. Still less is a Christian martyrdom the effect of a man's will to become a Saint, as a man by willing and contriving may become a ruler of men. Ambition fortifies the will of man to become ruler over other men: it operates with deception, cajolery, and violence, it is the action of impurity upon impurity. Not so in Heaven. A martyr, a saint, is always made by the design of God, for His love of men, to warn them and to lead them, to bring them back to His ways. 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. The martyr no longer desires anything for himself, not even the glory of martyrdom. So thus as on earth the Church mourns and rejoices at once, in a fashion that the world cannot understand; so in Heaven the Saints
- You shall forget these things, toiling in the household,
You shall remember them, droning by the fire,
When age and forgetfulness sweeten memory
Only like a dream that has often been told
And often been changed in the telling. They will seem unreal.
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.
- You would bar the door
Against the lion, the leopard, the wolf or the boar,
Why not more
Against beasts with the souls of damned men, against men
Who would damn themselves to beasts. My Lord! My Lord!
- You think me reckless, desperate and mad.
You argue by results, as this world does,
To settle if an act be good or bad.
You defer to the fact. 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.
It is not in time that my death shall be known;
It is out of time that my decision is taken
If you call that decision
To which my whole being gives entire consent.
I give my life
To the Law of God above the Law of Man.
Those who do not the same
How should they know what I do?
- We did not wish anything to happen.
We understood the private catastrophe,
The personal loss, the general misery,
Living and partly living;
- In life there is not time to grieve long
But this, this is out of life, this is out of time,
An instant eternity of evil and wrong.
- In the small circle of pain within the skull
You still shall tramp and tread one endless round
Of thought, to justify your action to yourselves,
Weaving a fiction which unravels as you weave,
Pacing forever in the hell of make-believe
Which never is belief: this is your fate on earth
And we must think no further of you.
- We praise thee, O God, for thy glory displayed
in all the creatures of the earth,
In the snow, in the rain, in the wind, in the storm,
in all of thy creatures, both the hunters and the hunted,
For all things exist as seen by thee,
only as known by thee, all things exist
Only in thy light, and thy glory is declared
even in that which denies thee;
the darkness declares the glory of light.
Those who deny thee could not deny, if thou didst not exist;
and their denial is never complete,
for if it were so, they would not exist.
They affirm thee in living; all things affirm thee in living;
the bird in the air, both the hawk and the finch;
the beast on the earth, both the wolf and the lamb.
Therefore we, whom thou hast made to be conscious of thee, must consciously praise thee, in thought and in word and in deed.
- O father, father
Gone from us, lost to us,
The church lies bereft,
And the heathen shall build
On the ruins
Their world without God.
I see it.
I see it.
- Wherever a saint has dwelt, wherever a martyr has given his blood for the blood of Christ,
There is holy ground, and the sanctity shall not depart from it
Though armies trample over it, though sightseers come with guide-books looking over it;
From where the western seas gnaw at the coast of Iona,
To the death in the desert, the prayer in forgotten places by the broken Imperial column,
From such ground springs that which forever renews the earth
Though it is forever denied.