Murder in the Cathedral
T. S. Eliot

T. S. Eliot

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Murder in the Cathedral




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Murder in the Cathedral

Copyright © 1935 by Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.
Copyright © 1963 by T. S. Eliot

Part I

Third Priest:

I see nothing quite conclusive in the art of temporal government

But violence, duplicity and frequent malversation.

King rules or barons rule:

The strong man strongly and the weak man by caprice.

They have but one law, to seize the power and keep it,

And the steadfast can manipulate the greed and lust of others,

The feeble is devoured by his own.



Third Priest:

What peace can be found

To grow between the hammer and the anvil?


We do not know very much of the future

Except that from generation to generation

The same things happen again and again.

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.



Ambition comes when early force is spent

And when we find no longer all things possible.

Ambition comes behind and unobservable.


While I ate out of the King's dish

To become servant of God was never my wish.

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.


The Archbishop:

[...] A Christian martyrdom is never an accident, for 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 striving may become a ruler of men. A martyrdom is always the design of God, for His love of men, to warn them and to lead them, to bring them back to His ways. It 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, and who no longer desires anything for himself, not even the glory of being a martyr.

Part II



What shall become of us, my Lord, if you are killed; what shall become of us?


Peace! be quiet! remember where you are, and what is happening;

No life here is sought for but mine,

And I am not in danger: only near to death.


Unbar the doors! Throw open the doors!

I will not have the house of prayer, the church of Christ,

The sanctuary, turned into a fortress.

The Church shall protect her own, in her own way, not

As oak and stone; stone and oak decay,

Give no stay, but the Church shall endure.

The church shall be open, even to our enemies. Open the door!




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.

text checked (note P) Jan '05

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