You provide us with some rich insights here. To push the appraisal of DS--that most "pedantic" and sublime poem--a bit further, allow me to quote what I continue to find an amazing critical position. Herbert Howarth in his _Notes on Some Figures Behind T. S. Eliot_ says this:
"'The Dry Salvages,' with it vision of the arterial river at St. Louis and the coast of New England, is at once a local and a national masterpiece, and, with its vision of human reaching-out and human patience, it is an international masterpiece. It is the greatest of his poems and among the great poems of his time."
If it is possible to see the correspondences "faded song" = Vivienne; Royal Rose = Emily Hale; spray of lilacs = Verdenal; then the personal element here adds even more to its stature.
J. P. Earls, OSB
St. John's University
Collegeville, MN 56321
From: INGELBIEN RAPHAEL [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Monday, May 20, 2002 11:34 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Milton, FQ (why OT?)
Ken Armstrong wrote (of somebody's views on Milton and Eliot):
> Milton is all but equivalent to Diderot in his materialism and
> religious only as the age dictated,
'As the age dictated'? It was an age riven by religious controversy - one
should at least be prepared to give Milton credit for the courage of his
religious opinions. These were sometimes anything but 'orthodox', and some
of them were even challenging for other dissenters.
I also object to the anachronism of opposing Milton's 'materialism' to
'religion'. The whole point of Milton's Puritan world view is that it
regarded materialism as a way of doing God's bidding. The comparison with
rationalists like Diderot rests on an oversimplified definition of
> She says,
> in effect, that Milton is not seriously religious, hence no crawling skin,
It's interesting to compare that reaction with the response of a
non-believer like William Empson, whose skin did creep at Milton's religious
> If it is your own view that the FQ are pedantic as opposed to artistic,
> could you give an example?
Eliot interestingly tried to preempt both labels in the poem itself: 'the
formal word precise but not pedantic', 'the poetry does not matter'. Maybe
Eliot wrote those lines because he was aware that parts of FQ could be read
as precisely that (either pedantic or purely artistic). They can even follow
each other very closely
'I sometimes wonder whether that is what Krishna meant
- Among other things - or one way of putting the same thing:'
(does this come close to spiritual name-dropping?)
'That the future is a faded song, a Royal Rose or a lavender spray
Of wistful regret for those who are not yet here to regret,
Pressed between yellow leaves of a book that has never been opened'
(to me, this is so 'artistic' that it recalls the decadents)
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