Incredible experience of being in East Coker – passing through on the drive from London to the South West. Stopped off at the church – it was quite late, after 5pm – an extremely kindly gentleman (Mr Waits – but not Tom) opened up the door and there was the chance to visit TS Eliot’s memorial, the place where his ashes are buried in the west end of the church. Eliot’s earliest-known ancestors came from the village and his returning brings things full circle, in the manner of the poem.
In my beginning is my end…… In my end is my beginning
The memorial is very simple – and it felt a very suitable, solemn but not sad space to be the poet’s final resting place. Slanting late-afternoon sunlight through the windows. When you listen, birds singing. The poem – read again, here, in this setting – is astounding. How great it was to read it aloud, in that spot! The words sound fantastic. I feel it was a real privilege to be able to do this, unforgettable. I now have a mission to read Little Gidding in Little Gidding – but this was very special, and kind of unplanned. A copy of his collected poems on the window-sill, it just had to be done…
So thanks to TS Eliot for his words and heart – you could feel his spirit in that place and in those words.