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TSE  March 2001

TSE March 2001

Subject:

Re: The Uranian confusion

From:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Sun, 4 Mar 2001 09:27:49 EST

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (119 lines)

3/4/01

In a message dated 3/4/01 4:14:51 AM EST, [log in to unmask] writes:

> So he's got a structure built into his crappy
> little piece of doggerel--essentially, he's
> developing a contrast. Notice that he starts with
> the Uranian muse, the patroness of all that's
> lofty and even (according to Wicksteed) heavenly.
> Then he jumps to the other extreme, to the
> low kind of rhetoric that teenagers like to
> call "talking dirty."
>. . .
> Dante spans the whole gamut, from scenes
> of exquisite beauty to all those stinking
> marshes and worse.

   Yes, that's true. And if Pound intended to tie the Urania reference (and
the subsequent structure of the Commedia) into his joke, it makes the joke
even more clever. You've shown evidence that Pound did this -- thanks for
pointing it out. I can certainly imagine a big smile coming to Pound's face
as he ties in "Urania" (the Commedia muse) to the word "Uranian" (that meant
'gay' in that time period [and I'm using Jim Loucks as my source for the
meaning of 'Uranian']).

  This is probably the first time in history that "Sage Homme" has been
analyzed for its ties to Urania and its 'Commedia-like' structure, but hey, I
can see your points now that you've mentioned it and it could lead to new
insights. In my view, this is the type of unusual discussion that makes the
TSE list different from going to the library and looking up papers on Eliot.
Who knows -- maybe we're just a few more insights away from having the "Sage
Homme" line "Balls and balls and balls again" studied by scholars along side
"April is the cruelest month" :-)


>> And the holy hosts of hellenists
>> Have numbed and honied his cervic cysts,
>>
>> (Steve) It sounds like a crude reference to
>> male homosexual anal intercourse.
>
> (Pat) Maybe you need to add something to your
> statement, or qualify it in some way. The
> cervix is the neck of the womb. Men don't have
> cervixes, so can't use them
> in "male homosexual anal intercourse."

  For those who didn't understand what I meant (or those who started a futile
search for a male cervix in some anatomy book), let me rephrase in a more
graphic way that I didn't originally think was necessary:

  Pound seems to be comparing the male anus and walls of the bowel to the
female vagina and cervix. "Numbed and honied his [cervic] cysts" likely
refers to ejaculation inside of the male body during male homosexual anal
intercourse.


> Hence the somewhat bizarre idea that if we
> assumed some of the women "are really
> supposed to be men," then maybe the theory
> could be rescued. Since we've determined
> this curious idea was actually started by Knight,
> and nobody has the foggiest idea of what
> Knight said or what his reasoning is,
> maybe we need the Knight article.

  By all means, go look up and post excerpts from the Knight article if you'd
like. To me the idea that certain characters in TWL (or in literature in
general) are really supposed to be other characters (even characters of the
opposite sex) is neither bizarre nor curious. And the idea as specifically
applied to TWL occurred to me long before I ever heard of Knight. Knight may
have some great insights in that article or the article may be awful -- but
Knight's article is in no way fundamental to my views of TWL. I don't "need"
the Knight article. If I find the article I'll read it, but you're
overplaying the significance of the article to this discussion.


>> "Grudge not the oyster his stiff saliva".
>> (Steve) My guess is that it means
>> "Don't condemn the poet over the source of his
>> sexual energy ('stiff saliva' -- ejaculate) --
>> it's what allowed the oyster (Eliot) to produce
>> his pearl (TWL)."
>
> (Pat)"Grudge not" is an imperative, and I assume
> it's being addressed to Eliot, because the entire poem
> is addressed to Eliot. Maybe he's being told not
> to envy oysters their simple sexual pleasures.

  In my copy of Eliot's letters (p 499) the "Grude not" line is set off by a
blank line from the preceding verse. "Sage Homme" is not printed in facsimile
form, so I can't verify this. Assuming this spacing is right, I take the
spacing to indicate a change in who's being addressed. I think the closing of
the poem is addressed to "the reader" (not specifically Eliot, but a
universalized reader).

> But you've lost me on why you think poets should
> be equated with oysters.

  They both produce "pearls" -- oysters literally and poets figuratively
(i.e., the poems). The production of the pearl begins with an irritant in the
'oyster', both in the literal oyster (the irritant being a physical object,
like a grain of sand) and in the human-poet-oyster (the irritant being
life-situations, like an unhappy marriage).

  That's what I meant when I wrote: "it's what allowed the oyster (Eliot) to
produce his pearl (TWL)" ? Sorry if this was unclear.

> Your next step has me even more baffled. If you
> want poets to be oysters, why is an
> oyster (Eliot) being told not to envy oysters?
> Doesn't make any sense. Or there's something
> you've forgotten to explain.

  I forgot to explain that I think the ending lines of "Sage Homme" are
directed to the "universal reader" and not to Eliot.

-- Steve --

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