Good Friday

I know it gets a lot of play on Good Friday, and rightfully so, but this section from TS Eliot hits it on the head. From Four Quartets: East Coker, section 4. Enjoy. Go read the other sections when you can as well. So good.

IV.

The wounded surgeon plies the steel

That questions the distempered part;

Beneath the bleeding hands we feel

The sharp compassion of the healer’s art

Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

 

Our only health is the disease

If we obey the dying nurse

Whose constant care is not to please

But to remind of our, and Adam’s curse,

And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

 

The whole earth is our hospital

Endowed by the ruined millionaire,

Wherein, if we do well, we shall

Die of the absolute paternal care

That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.

 

The chill ascends from feet to knees,

The fever sings in mental wires.

If to be warmed, then I must freeze

And quake in frigid purgatorial fires

Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.

 

The dripping blood our only drink,

The bloody flesh our only food:

In spite of which we like to think

That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood—

Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.

 

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