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TSE  January 2003

TSE January 2003

Subject:

Re: Meter in LG IV/208

From:

Marcia Karp <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Wed, 1 Jan 2003 13:31:57 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (140 lines)

Dear Gunnar,
I hear this differently than you; very differently than Carrol and
Nancy, who hear three stresses in each line.
I’m sorry to change your system of notation, but I have — to make it
close to the many scansions I’ve seen published. It has, too, the
advantage of making the distinction between stress and not instantly
clear. I’ve translated your scanning into my system for comparison. /
rather than – for stressed syllable.
You and I differ in number of feet in just one line. I think there is an
easy explanation for that. We agree on all foot or beat count in the
others. While Carrol and Nancy hear 3 in all of them, I hear it in only
two lines.
Eliot, then Gunnar, then me.

    Who then devised the torment? Love.
    Love is the unfamiliar Name
    Behind the hands that wove
    The intolerable shirt of flame
    Which human power cannot remove. [TSE]

    ~ / ~ / ~ / ~ /
    ~ / ~ / ~ / ~ /
    ~ / ~ / ~ /
    ~ / ~ / ~ / ~ /
    ~ / ~ / ~ / ~ / [GJ]

    / ~ ~ / ~ / ~ /
    / ~ ~ / ~ / ~ /
    ~ / ~ / ~ /
    ~ ~ / ~ ~ / ~ /
    ~ / ~ / ~ ~ / ~ / [MSK]


Gunnar, we vary in the first two lines in that I hear a trochaic
inversion in the first foot. This is a standard—both lawful and
widely-used—variation that does not on its own change the identity of a
meter. The emphasis will depend on the meaning, which requires looking
at more than these lines. “Who THEN” rebuts a previous answer to the
author of the torment. “WHO then” sounds to me like the first asking of
the question. I hear the second line as “LOVE is the UN…” not “love IS
the UN…” I don’t see any need to argue either reading. The stress
pattern, as you note, stays the same in the third line.

We both hear the line in question, the third, as iambic trimeter. (Four
beats is tetrameter. Hexameter is six.) Better not to use “beat” to name
a syllable, as you’ll confuse those used to the vocabulary of English
prosody.

    …in the third, two beats are missing

I’d say the line is wanting two syllables or one foot or one beat.

It is the fourth line that we read quite differently.

    ~ / ~ / ~ / ~ /
    The intolerable shirt of flame [GJ]
    ~ ~ / ~ ~ / ~ /
    The intolerable shirt of flame [MSK]


First, a small digression. Depending on the sonic environment, the
number of syllables in “unfamiliar,” “intolerable,” and “power” vary.
(So, too, among other words in English do “child,” “poem,” and “smile”
change.) Tennyson added a note to these lines from The Lotos-Eaters:

    There is sweet music here that softer falls
    Than petals from blown roses on the grass,
    Or night-dews on still waters between walls
    Of shadowy granite, in a gleaming pass;
    Music that gentlier on the spirit lies,
    Than tired eyelids upon tired eyes; [46-51]

About “tired” in line 51, AT wrote: “making the word neither
monosyllabic or disyllabic, but a dreamy child of them two.”

You and I have the same number of syllables for line 4, but I think the
oddness of “intolerable” might be throwing you off. Seems to me that IN
would be emphasized only to rebut “tolerable.”
In line 5, you hear “power” as one syllable, I hear it as two. No big deal.

You could describe the meter as a rising one—ending on a stress—(iambs
and anapests) rather than a falling one (trochees and dactyls), with a
number of feet varying slightly, but based on four. Very coherent. BUT,
these are just a few lines from a much larger work. And the pauses would
have to be taken account of in a full description.

Your question about the relation of meaning to metrical/rhythmical
variation is very perceptive. I’ve nothing to say, but will caution you
to look at the patterns in the whole poem in answering this.

Sorry to have gone on at such length. The subject is dear to my heart.




Gunnar Jauch wrote:

>I should like to open a new topical thread with the aforementioned verses
>that allude to Julian of Norwich's words, perhaps THE central part of the
>entire Quartets:
>
>
>Who then devised the torment? Love.
>Love is unfamiliar Name
>Behind the hands that wove
>The intolerable shirt of flame
>Which human power cannot remove.
>
>
>There is, it seems to me, a metric problem with the third line.
>All other lines have another rhythm (hexameter?), whereas, in the third,
>two beats are missing:
>
>
>˜ - ˜ - ˜ - ˜ -
>
>˜ - ˜ - ˜ - ˜ -
>
>˜ - ˜ - ˜ -
>
>˜ - ˜ - ˜ - ˜ -
>
>˜ - ˜ - ˜ - ˜ -
>
>
>Rereading and memorizing the poem, I keep stumbling over this anomaly over
>and over again. Think of altering it into  "gentle/caring/magic" hands, and
>the entire stanza would get a more fluent rhythm.
>
>The  stanza's symmetry the different line denotes, however, would be lost.
>And maybe this was the reason why TSE wrote it as such.
>
>Any suggestions?
>
>
>Gunnar
>
>
>
>

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