RaphaŽl Ingelbien wrote:
> This native speaker of French has just resubscribed to the list and is
> puzzled to read that the line misquoted from Verlaine in The Waste Land
> contains a pun involving a parson. Sorry to join this thread so late, but
> could anyone tell me what that pun is?
Steve Morse sent in the following posts.
First, I do NOT speak French, but could line 202 in The Waste Land be a
"Et O ces voix d'enfants, chantant dans la coupole" = "And, O those
children's voices singing in the dome!"
Could it also be translated "And, O these childlike parsons, lilting in the
cupola (or dome)"? or " . . . childlike voices . . ."? Might this be a slap
at the religious, or a reference not to children but the quality of the
Just wondering, and this list may have covered this already, so my apologies
if I am plowing an old field, or if this question is too tangential.
The reason I asked if "Et, O ces voix . . ." might be a pun was because, in
looking up the words in translation, I found that "voix" is French for
"voice(s)" and "parson(s)". And a parson, according the American Heritage
Dictionary of the English Language is "An Anglican cleric with full legal
control of a parish under ecclesiastical law" and the title of this section
of the poem is "The Fire Sermon." Also the business of "washing their feet
in soda water" seemed an allusion to a ritual that takes place in some
religious denominations where the priest/minister will wash the feet of
parishioners at Eastertide (April?)
Also, parson and Parsifal could be punned, if that is not too much of a
stretch. And "d'enfants" with a meaning of "childlike" might also mean
"innocent" or "naive." So just who is giving this Fire Sermon? naive
I also think most punning is allusional, though allusions are not mostly
What do you think?