Little Gidding was a seventeenth century religious community near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire. During the English Civil War they gave sanctuary to Charles 1st (the “broken king” of the poem) after his last defeat at Naseby. The poem is a meditation on time and death. The church still stands.
This concludes our poetic journey through East Anglia “now and in England”.
If you came this way, Taking the route you would be likely to take From the place you would be likely to come from, If you came this way in may time, you would find the hedges White again, in May, with voluptuary sweetness. It would be the same at the end of the journey, If you came at night like a broken king, If you came by day not knowing what you came for, It would be the same, when you leave the rough road And turn behind the pig-sty to the dull facade And the tombstone. And what you thought you came for Is only a shell, a husk of meaning From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled If at all. Either you had no purpose Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured And is altered in fulfilment. 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.