“Where there is no temple there shall be no homes.”

With my emphases from Choruses from “The Rock” by T. S. Eliot:

We build in vain unless the Lord build with us.
Can you keep the City that the Lord keeps not with you?
A thousand policemen directing the traffic
Cannot tell you why you come or where you go.
A colony of cavies or a horde of active marmots
Build better than they that build without the Lord.
Shall we lift up our feet among perpetual ruins?
I have loved the beauty of Thy House, the peace of Thy
I have swept the floors and garnished the altars.
Where there is no temple there shall be no homes.
Though you have shelters and institutions,
Precarious lodgings while the rent is paid,
Subsiding basements where the rat breeds
Or sanitary dwellings with numbered doors
Or a house a little better than your neighbour’s;
When the Stranger says: “What is the meaning of this city?
Do you huddle close together because you love each other?”
What will you answer? “We all dwell together
To make money from each other”? or “This is a community”?
And the Stranger will depart and return to the desert.
? my soul, be prepared for the coming of the Stranger,
Be prepared for him who knows how to ask questions.

? weariness of men who turn from God
To the grandeur of your mind and the glory of your action,
To arts and inventions and daring enterprises.
To schemes of human greatness thoroughly discredited.
Binding the earth and the water to your service,
Exploiting the seas and developing the mountains,
Dividing the stars into common and preferred.
Engaged in devising the perfect refrigerator,
Engaged in working out a rational morality,
Engaged in printing as many books as possible,
Plotting of happiness and flinging empty bottles,
Turning from your vacancy to fevered enthusiasm
For nation or race or what you call humanity;
Though you forget the way to the Temple,
There is one who remembers the way to your door:
Life you may evade, but Death you shall not.
You shall not deny the Stranger.

Later in the Choruses we read, something applicable to the debate about mass school shootings…

If humility and purity be not in the heart, they are not in the
home: and if they are not in the home, they are not in the City.
The man who has builded during the day would return to his
hearth at nightfall: to be blessed with the gift of silence, and
doze before he sleeps.
But we are encompassed with snakes and dogs: therefore some
must labour, and others must hold the spears.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Marion Ancilla Mariae II says:

    Brilliant poem. Thanks so much for posting this, Father!

  2. Kathleen10 says:

    Ooh, that’s good.

  3. Spinmamma says:

    I have always loved T.S. Eliot. One of his poems that has haunted me since I first encountered it- Lo these many years ago-is “Ash Wednesday.” Another “Gerontion” I was not Catholic when I first loved T.S. Eliot. Now that I am, his poetry has an exponentially richer, deeper meaning. I think it sad that he is not read much anymore, and that poems, such as “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock ” and “The Hollow Men” are more often held up as examples of his work, and without the gloss of his Anglo-Catholicism. Alas, I fear there are few left in the world with the knowledge of classic Western Culture who can even read “The Waste Land” at all. Thank you for posting this beautiful reminder of why the work of T.S.Eliot is such a treasure. It gave a lovely glow to my morning.

  4. samwise says:

    Eliot’s excellent play about St. Thomas Beckett, starring Paul Scofield https://archive.org/details/202Side3

Comments are closed.