A Poem by Gerard Garrigan, OSB

T. S. Eliot, St. Louis Homeboy

“It is self-evident that St. Louis affected me more deeply than any other environment has ever done. I feel that there is something in having passed one’s childhood beside the big river, which is incommunicable to those people who have not. I consider myself fortunate to have been born here, rather than in Boston, or New York, or London.”

     – T.S. Eliot

Long before you knew Westminster Abbey
You knew Westminster Place, 4446
Your home then and ever, evermore
The floods, the storms of the great Midwest
And the river, the mighty Mississippi,
You who told that newspaper man,
“There’s something about growing up”
“Next to the big river which is”
“Totally incomprehensible to one who has not”
Yes, you became his majesty’s subject in 1927,
Took on that upmarket English accent
And lie in East Coker in Somerset
On your beloved isle of Britain
But to your dying day, there did surely stay,
Though that British sea was all about you,
There did stay, there did still resolutely remain,
That river that was within you and through,
And through you that river there did still pulse,
Did still course the river, the mighty, muddy Mississippi
Yes, you knew that home is where one starts from
And home there ever, evermore shall be
T.S. Eliot, St. Louis homeboy

Gerard Garrigan, OSB is a Benedictine monk of Saint Louis Abbey in St. Louis, Missouri. Free digital copies of his poetry may be obtained by emailing him at frgerard@priory.org.

Image: T. S. Eliot house, 4446 Westminster Place, St. Louis, Missouri | LittleT889 / Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0
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