Little Gidding

Literary Tattoos: T.S. Eliot Four Quartets

This belongs to Hayden.

The quotation is from the final movement of “Little GiddingLiterary Tattoos: T.S. Eliot Four Quartets ” by T.S. Eliot. “A Condition of Complete Simplicity Costing Not Less Than Everything.”

I have been thinking of this tattoo for two years or so. The previous three years have been the most difficult of my entire life; I have experienced an overturning of many of my most-secure beliefs. I have experienced tremendous grief, and yet in the midst of it I have acquired something very rare: self-knowledge. Things are still hard; I am not through it yet. It is for this reason that I selected this passage. At this point in my life, I am confident that the condition of complete simplicity, that arduous path to self-knowledge and wholeness of soul, costs everything. What I am not yet sure of, what I am still trying to believe, is that “all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” Someday, perhaps, I will be able to add those words to those inscribed in my soul and now my body.

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, remembered 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 the 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 things 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 V, Four QuartetsLiterary Tattoos: T.S. Eliot Four Quartets , T.S. Eliot (1943)

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