“Ash Wednesday” by Karen-Laub Novak

By Michael Novak on February 13, 2013 in Karen Laub-Novak
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“Ash Wednesday” print series by artist Karen Laub-Novak, based upon T.S. Eliot’s poem by the same name.  To learn more about Karen and her art visit http://www.laub-novakart.com/index.html.

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Ash Wednesday by T.S. Eliot

 Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)…

The Lady is withdrawn
In a white gown, to contemplation, in a white gown.
Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgetfulness.
There is no life in them. As I am forgotten
And would be forgotten, so I would forget
Thus devoted, concentrated in purpose.

At the first turning of the second stair
I turned and saw below
The same shape twisted on the banister
Under the vapour in the fetid air
Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears
The deceitul face of hope and of despair…

…Distraction, music of the flute, stops and steps of
the mind over the third stair,
Fading, fading; strength beyond hope and despair
Climbing the third stair.

Redeem
The time. Redeem
The unread vision in the higher dream
While jewelled unicorns draw by the gilded hearse…

…Redeem the time, redeem the dream
The token of the word unheard, unspoken.

Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.

Although I do not hope to turn again
Although I do not hope
Although I do not hope to turn

Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying…

….And the blind eye creates
The empty forms between the ivory gates
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth

This is the time of tension between dying and birth.

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Michael NovakView all posts by Michael Novak

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