In his last quartet, 'Little Gidding', T. S. Eliot talks writes:

'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.'


Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.'

'A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)'

I have loved this poem (or, more accurately, parts of this poem) for a long time. To begin with I didn't know what I loved, only that the lines sounded true, and very, very close to me, almost as if spoken to me.

Here is the spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle:

'To recognise the basic truths being expressed by these words, that little opening must be there already inside you because it's only there that you can recognise it. Thought alone can't recognise spiritual truths no matter how highly developed thought is...Intelligence in itself doesn't help. You can have two or three Ph.D.s; it doesn't get you any closer to spiritual realisation. In fact, you might be more distant.'

Eliot says: 'We arrive at the place and know it for the first time.'

Hamlet says: 'Ripeness is all; the rest is silence.'

The place of peace described in Four Quartets seems to me akin to the place A.A.Milne describes in a magical very last chapter of his Winnie the Pooh stories, titled 'Where Pooh and Christopher Robin reach an enchanted place and we leave them there'. In that place the stories cease forever yet the bear and his boy play on in an eternal and blisful present moment, in a 'condition of complete simplicity'. 'Intelligence in itself doesn't help...' Perhaps that's why Pooh and Christopher Robin find that place then.

Note 19:



stories and things



leaving the text alone

Beckett and mysticism

why real directors are writers

Dr Seuss and Tom McCarthy

why the novelist's job is harder than God's

the thing about autobiographical fiction

how to write a successful novel

George Herbert and Judith McPherson

the value of not doing

thoughts on TLOD

don't judge a book

things I was thinking when writing TLOD

time, words, are the enemy

the master's voice


why I didn't want to write anymore

the value of not knowing

when do you give up on a book?


what makes a book great

divine fancy


time, identity and fiction