I do not think so! And again do not think so! What are they alluding to.
The Dantean scenes bear no resemblence to the hyacinth garden scenes except
through torture. TSE uses similar words in similar fashions but to be an
allusion he must want to direct our attention to something Dantean. Dante
in the line 25, Canto 34 quote is posing a riddle, a riddle that is bound up
in Dante (pilgrim's) very nature. Up until this point in _Inferno_ the
defining characteristic of Dante (pilgrim) has been his breath. The dead
and condemned souls do not breath. I repeat THE DEAD AND CONDEMNED SOULS DO
NOT BREATH. Dante (pilgrim) always is breathing until this scene. In fact
the condemn souls use his breathing to tell that he is not one of them. So
what has happened? He has "experienced" death and condemnation and is now
spiritually one with the condemned souls Yet he is not dead because he
knows he still lives. He is now ready to proceed past Satan and on to
_Purgatory_ where he will undergo purgation for his sin of pride. Is this
what you want TSE to be alluding to in the hyacinth scene? Of course my
interpretation of the riddle is not necessarily correct but I would think
that any allusion must answer Dante (pilgrim's) riddle.
Why would TSE use an allusion to a Canto with which he has major problems?
Especially as you see this as a vital allusion to the entire meaning of TWL?
(The Canto that I always skip is Canto 33 because of the horror that Dante
(Poet) brings so vividly to my eye.) Canto 34 is merely a transition which
also serves to locate Dante (poet's) evilist of sinners; Judas, Brutus and
Cassius. Even the eternal punishment of these arch sinners is unimaginative
and not well done by Dante (Poet). Canto 34 merely ties up the trip of
Dante (pilgrim) through hell, readies him for Purgatory and provides an exit
from hell. It establishes hell as a one way trip. Once a level is visited
no return on the same path is possible. An exit, bolt hole, must be
provided for Dante (pilgrim) and Virgil. Canto 34 simply provides that bolt
hole and transition to Purgatory.
You cannot just pick up similar words and phrases out of context. Context
is the essence of allusion. TSE may very well have been struck by the
rhythm of the translated words and wanted to use them. He may very well
have first come in contact with those words in that sequence through a
translation of Dante. That would show influence but does not constitute an
intended (or even unconscious for those neo Freuds out there) allusion.
BTW: It is the subtle differences that renders the Saha translation (which
he evidently maintains as the only really possible?) inappropriate and
forced to his conclusion. Dante is not positing a never never land between
the living and the dead. He is pointing to a change in his spirtitual
being. He is now aware of his sin and is ready for purgation.
McIntosh, NM, USA
From: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Saturday, July 07, 2001 9:55 AM
Subject: Re: Dante in the hyacinth garden
>Rick Seddon wrote (7/6/01):
>> First off as I think is obvious there are subtle
>> difference between all the translations and Saha's
>> claim to have an "exact equivalent" cannot therefore
>> just be accepted. I have no Italian myself and must
>> rely upon multiple translations for a average sense.
>Let me readily admit that I also do not know any Italian.
>These are the translations you gave from your various sources:
>"I did not die and did not remain alive".
>"I did not die and yet I had lost life's breath".
>"I neither died, nor kept alive".
>"This was not life, and yet it was not death".
>"I did not die and did not remain alive".
>I do not think it is fruitful to focus on the "subtle differences". How
>focusing instead on the not-so-subtle SIMILARITIES among ALL the
>you cited and Eliot's hyacinth scene line:
>"I was neither living nor dead."
>Sure looks like a Dante allusion to me. Do you not think so?
>Furthermore, Saha's discussion of the other hyacinth scene lines, such as:
> 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 light so deeply that my
> entire vision was consumed in it."]
> "I knew nothing, Looking into the heart of light" is the
> equivalent of Dante's vision being consumed
> in the eternal light, and the overall notion
> of suspended being in "I could not / Speak,
> and my eyes failed" is the counterpart of "Cosi la
> mente mia tutta sospesa, / mirava fissa,
> immobile ed attenta . . . " (Paradiso, XXXIII,
> 97-98) ["Thus with wholly suspended mind, 1 stared
> fixedly, motionless and intent . . . "]
>also seem to me to be a Dante allusion. Again, do you not think so?
>You said you found Saha's essay confusing and his conclusions forced. OK.
>forget Saha's conclusion, and let me pose this to you instead: If the
>hyacinth scene is (as it appears to be) a "conflation" of lines from the
>Commedia, then what is TSE getting at? Why should the hyacinth scene draw
>elements from Hell and Heaven, or, more specifically, from the climactic
>cantos of Inferno (a vision of Lucifer) and Paradiso (a vision of God)? Of
>course, if you DON'T think the hyacinth lines are Dante allusions, then my
>question is meaningless.
>-- Steve --