What is the importance of the line "Now and in England" in Little Gidding, Four Quartets by T. S. Eliot?
The verse "Now and in England" comes at line 40 in the first section of Little Gidding, the fourth of T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets. It is the final line of the strophe
There are other places
Which also are the world's end, some at the sea jaws,
Or over a dark lake, in a desert or a city--
But this is the nearest, in place and time,
Now and in England.
The verse is an indirect reference to the place and time of the quartet's title - Little Gidding - the biblical and devotional lay religious community founded in 1625 by Nicholas Ferrar, an Anglican theologian. However, in the poet's conception, Little Gidding is not just a particular place in Huntingdonshire, England in the 17th century. It is all places and all times at "the world's end," restated, pellucidly, 14 verses later at the end of Section I as
"Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere."
where the soul reawakens to its heavenly vocation. Eliot leads us to this moment which is "never and always" from the opening lines of the quartet where he places before the reader the paradoxical images of "midwinter spring," not fecund like natural spring, but pregnant, nevertheless, with a spiritual reawakening. As "midwinter spring" is a significant moment in time, so Little Gidding is a significant site, not for the remnants - the "pig-sty," the "dull facade" or the "tombstone," - but for its meaning. It was the place, as it can be any place, where the "pentecostal fire [descended] in the dark time of the year."