Nancy Gish writes (7/7/01):
> The allusions and parallels are interesting;
> the question they raise for me is
> what we can really infer from them.
> The conclusion Saha reaches begs the
> question, because they enhance our
> understanding by having universal
> significance only if they have universal significance
> and only if that is the point of TWL.
Nancy, I agree with you. Out of respect for Saha, who discovered the
(apparent) Dante allusions, I posted Saha's conclusions as well. But my
interest was in (what looks to me like) the Dante allusions themselves. And
allusions to, of all things, the final Cantos of the extreme ends of Dante's
journey, Inferno and Paradiso.
>. . .. If the poem were, let us assume for argument,
> "rhythmical grumbling" or an expression of
> personal distress, then this set of lines
> would have some other effect or function,
> would it not?
If the poem was personal, and if Saha is right about the allusions, it
strikes me that the hyacinth scene represents the narrator regarding the
scene as a mix of extremes of good and evil, of simultaneously looking at
Lucifer and God. As Saha writes,
"I was neither / Living nor dead" is
the exact equivalent of "lo non mori,
e non rimasi vivo" (Inferno, XXXIV, 25).
The Italian line represents Dante's sense
of fear and paralysis when he
sees Lucifer. . . his terrifying vision
at the end of Inferno needs to be related
to the luminous vision at the end of
Paradiso: ". . . ficcar lo viso per la Luce
eterna, / tanto che la veduta vi consunsi!"
(Paradiso, XXXIII, 83-84). ["I fixed my gaze
on the eternal fight so deeply that my entire
vision was consumed in it."]
This would not be inconsistent with, say, a person who, for religious
reasons, thought homosexuality was wrong, while at the same time was falling
in love with a member of the same sex.
-- Steve --