Let us go then, you and I,
Eliot said, and so we went,
After the cups, the marmalade, and tea,
Beyond the porcelain, beyond the talk of you and me,
When the evening was spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
We went, we went through certain half-deserted streets.
We went to the bright retreats that muttered endlessly.
Some overwhelming question always had to ask,
Though it didn’t have to ask, “What is it?”
We went along and made our visit.
And at the first turning of the second stair
We turned and saw below, not far from the rose garden,
A familiar shape twisted on the banister
Under the vapor in the fetid air
Struggling with the business fool of the stairs who ascends
The deceitful steps of hope and despair.
At the second turning of the second stair,
We left them twisting, turning below;
At the third turning of the third stair
We finally went past all of the melodious distraction,
Music of the flute, stops and steps
Of the mind over the third stair,
Fading, fading; wisdom beyond hope and despair
Climbing and being the third stair.
We were the stairs,
We were the shapes and distractions,
And at half-past one,
The street-lamp sputtered
The street-lamp muttered,
The street-lamp said, “Regard that woman
Who hesitates toward you in the light of the door
Which opens on her like a grin.”
My visit with Tom in the rose garden never came to an end.