I finally got around to reading Eliot’s play, The Family Reunion (1939). It’s a doozy – not a whole lot of humor in there – but very much worth your time. Highly, highly recommended. A few quotes:
I believe the moment of birth
Is when we have knowledge of death
I believe the season of birth
Is the season of sacrifice.
There is nothing at all to be done about it,
There is nothing to do about anything
Thus with most careful devotion
Thus with precise attention
To detail, interfering preparation
Of that which is already prepared
Men tighten the knot of confusion
Into perfect misunderstanding
Reflecting a pocket-torch of observation
Upon each other’s opacity
Neglecting all the admonitions
From the world around the corner
The wind’s talk in the dry holly-tree
The inclination of the moon
The attraction of the dark passage
The paw under the door.
This is the way things happen.
Everything is true in a different sense,
A sense that would have seemed meaningless before.
Everything tends towards reconciliation
As the stone falls, as the tree falls. And in the end
That is the completion which at the beginning
Would have seemed the ruin.
What we have written is not a story of detection,
Of crime and punishment, but of sin and expiation.
It is possible that you have not known what sin
You shall expiate, or whose, or why. It is certain
That the knowledge of it must precede the expiation.
It is possible that sin may strain and struggle
In its dark instinctive birth, to come to consciousness
And so find expurgation.
We all of us make the pretension
To be the uncommon exception
To the universal bondage.
We like to appear in the newspapers
So long as we are in the right column.
We know about the railway accident
We know about the sudden thrombosis
And the slowly hardening artery.
We like to be thought well of by others
So that we may think well of ourselves.
And any explanation will satisfy:
We only ask to be reassured
About the noises in the cellar
And the window that should not have been open.
Why do we all behave as if the door might suddenly open, the curtains be drawn,
The cellar make some dreadful disclosure, the roof disappear,
And we should cease to be sure of what is real or unreal?
Hold tight, hold tight, we must insist that the world is what we have always taken it to be.