Time past and time future
Allow but a little consciousness.
To be conscious is not to be in time
But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
The moment in the the draughty church at smokefall
Be remembered; involved with past and future.
Only through time time is conquered.
This last section makes a sort of argument:
To be conscious is not to be in time. Where is a space which is not in time? It is not the present. As the poem says in section I, “All time is eternally present.”
It could be time past or time future: the poet states these all “a little consciousness.”
But it is not the place of remembrance. The rose-garden, the arbour, the church, are all remembered and thus are all “in time.” That cannot be the place of consciousness.
There was the story about the rose-garden in section I, but that event does not seem real: at least it was not in time. Perhaps that is why it is both “conscious” (because it is not in time) and reality “human kind/Cannot bear very much reality.”
Perhaps this consciousness can take place “at the still point of the turning world.” This would match the case. Of this still point, he writes,
I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
Perhaps both the imaginary space and the “still point” are available for consciousness. They do not seem to be the same place, and they are both outside of time.
What then do we do this final line, “Only through time time is conquered.”
What must be conquered in time? And why must time be conquered? Is it to let us escape and enter into the garden with the thrush or to enter the still point?
This seems to bring up an issue early in the poem
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What is this redemption? From where to what? At this point, the question is tantalizing, but the answer is certainly not clear. Fortunately, there are three more sections in the poem.