I would have thought "Helen in Egypt" was a major, extended long poem on
war by H. D. That it was the Trojan War does not alter the fact that it
contemplates a fundamental question of love vs. war and contrasts the
character of warriors and lovers.
Date sent: Wed, 9 Jan 2002 17:56:21 +0100
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From: "frank kretschmer" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Bad manners
>This list has people on it who study TSE as part of their vocation and
have written a number of well respected books on >TSE It also has
lovers of poetry like me.
Well, as for my part, I haven't written any books (let alone well
respected ones) on anything. And I am of course happy to share my
with people - amateurs or no - who know much more about a given topic
I do. So sorry for "attacking" the list. I was getting kind of frustrated
of not understanding most of the allusion in the mails I guess ... . And I
am not the kind of person to "sulk silently", but rather one to provoke
reactions, especially with mailing lists, where you sometimes forget that
you are conversing with real and existing human beings ;-). Sorry for
Anyhow thanks for giving away some information on some of the list
members. It really helps to understand things a bit better.
As to TSE and WWI:
>I for one would like to hear more of what you think about TSE and W.W.I.
don't think TSE liked things military very >much.
>I don't think he had much use for military force as a instrument of
On the other hand it is known that he tried to enlist after America
entered the War in 1917, this seems, however, to have been not
(Compare the letters of the time in question).
On the other hand, In "Airs of Palestine No2" he openly - and ironically -
criticized the anti German propaganda in the daily press, at least to my
reading. (can you call an unpublished poem "open" criticism?)
An ironical and critical distance seems to have been his major attitude on
the war as a whole. In an article of 1919 [Athenaeum, 4640, (4th of April
1919)] he criticizes - in a book review - a sentimental pro war attitude
as only acceptable as "a fancy of a very young man".
>He liked creating not breaking things.
He broke with a lot of traditions though, didn't he ?
>I don't think he was comfortable with poetry being associated with war.
>But yet contrariwise he would have thought poetry >to be the perfect
>medium for expressing war. Perhaps he was unable to overcome his
>He would not have seen a >role for his poetry in extending colonialism by
>military force as Kipling and others did.
Kipling indeed did quite a lot of propaganda. His Poem "For all We Have
And Are" appeared in the Times, Sept.. 2nd, 1914. Is begins thus:
"For all we have and are,
For all or Children's Fate,
Stand up and meet the war
The Hun is at the gate"
It is quite impossible to imagine a TSE poems in the same place.
Indeed the criticism expressed in "Airs of Palestine" makes this
And these were the kind of connections / reactions on Eliot's side that I
was looking for.
>Some, however, read TWL as war >poetry. I would like to know what
It was a dissertation by J.P. Sammonds of on American Poetry of WWI,
which brought Eliot in connection to WWI buy using the above argument,
reading TWL as a poem with close connections to WWI.
Now I am working on a dissertation with a slightly similar topic, namely
comparing British and American poetry of WWI. And although I found
Sammond's point of view interesting, I wondered if there weren't more
immediate reactions of Eliot to the war. If there were, it would be
necessary to include those poems of Eliot in my paper, if there weren't I
could safely exclude him, because a) I have restricted my paper to poems
written up to ~1920, and b) I don't see a point in repeating Sammond's
As a remake on war poetry in retrospect, a also would like to include
Eliot's " a note on war poetry", (1942) which summons up nicely his
position on the topic. The poem makes clear, that he really was, as you
put it, uncomfortable with "War poetry".
In the first stanza he tries to distance "poetry" from the "expression of
collective emotions/Imperfectly reflected in the daily papers". In the
next stanzas he distinguishes between personal reactions to war on the one
hand (which he calls "not poetry" but "a life"), the war ( as "not life"),
and the "poetry" at which he aims. He concludes the poem with the
"The enduring is not a substitute for the transient,
neither one for the other. But the abstract conception
Of private experience at its greatest intensity
Becoming universal which we call 'poetry'
May be affirmed in verse."
This is, I think, a remarkable view on war poetry. It resembles quite well
the different poetic approaches to WW one. (Jingoist poems in the papers,
like those of Kipling above, highly personal ones like those of Wilfred
Owen, and "universal" once, maybe like Pounds "Mauberley". But since this
"Note" was written way into the second WW, can it be transferred to the
poetry written over a decade earlier, and for that matter, to Eliot's
points of view of over a decade earlier?
This is basically why I am studying, at he moment, Eliot's statements on
>Other poets of the era wrote no war poetry. I can think of >none by H.D.
Well, other poets weren't as important, on the other hand ... I would feel
better if I overlooked some reactions by TSE than some reactions by H.D.,
although I do like her writings.
>Know this though. The list does not respond well to questions.
It wasn't a really good idea than to introduce myself to the list with a
question? And to continue with a second one? Well, I'll do better next
time ;-). If often regard mailing list as a kind of "pools of knowledge"
I hope for your patience,