For me, the links in your chain of reasoning grow stronger with each new
connection. I find the Verdenal-threnody interpretation attractive not
because it places Eliot in a homosexual relationship, but because it
makes TWL a poem held together by honest, if hidden, human emotion.
Without that, it always runs the risk of falling apart into a series of
obscure quotations passing priggish judgement on 20th century
civilization. Hemingway liked the poem until he encountered E's
notes.The emotion is there, but is so hidden that the exoskeleton of
quotations too easily obscures its interior articulation. Your
explanation shows promise of more successfully relating those quotations
(and indirections) in an emotionally meaningful pattern.
J. P. Earls, OSB
St. John' University
Collegeville, MN 56321
From: [log in to unmask] [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Sunday, February 09, 2003 10:40 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Hofgarten and the hyacinth garden
Some comments on posts from Rick and Marcia:
In a message dated 2/9/03 7:52:09 PM EST, [log in to unmask] writes:
> I'm lost here Steve. It looks as if you are saying
> that Marie said "And down we went." but **NOT**
> "I'm not Russian. I'm from Lithuania. Pure German."
> You are imagining a conversation here--who
> do you imagine DID speak the "Bin gar ..."
> line? Certainly not Verdenal!
> Rick Parker
I think the 'Lithuanian' line was spoken by a Lithuanian, which Marie
not. I envision it spoken by an unnamed Lithuanian companion of Marie,
the narrator and his own companion (whom I envision to be a
version of Eliot and Verdenal) meet in the Hofgarten.
In a message dated 2/9/03 8:15:05 PM EST, [log in to unmask] writes:
> Is there someone who knows the logic of coming
> from Lithuania (not and never a part of Germany)
> and being a true German? I don't get it.
Marcia, you ask the $64,000 question, and I think it's central to
understanding the Hofgarten passage. Historically, Lithuania was
conquered, first by Russia and then by Germany. Lithuania did not gain
independence until after WW1. And, in any event, I don't think a
national would consider themselves to be a true German or a true
So, quite apart from the history of WW1, the poetic question, as
is: WHY is that line there? I'll readily admit I'm not sure and I'd
list discussion. Here are some observations, for what they are worth:
The line is a line of protestation: "I'm **NOT THIS**, I'm THAT!". It
sounds to me like a flustered protestation that contains a readily
identifiable error, as in, "I'm not from Boston University! I'm from
a pure Californian!" (Yale University, for those who don't know, is in
Connecticut, not California).
My humble speculation arises out of what I imagine to be the context
the Hofgarten conversation: Marie and her companion are sitting in the
Hofgarten, and two young guys show up (the narrator and his partner).
it be that the two guys have to field endless questions about the nature
their relationship? Is the "I'm not Russian! I'm pure German!" meant to
a too-often repeated protestation of "We're not gay; we're just friends.
Anyway, whatever you think (and I'll bet lots of cash that you don't
with me), you are quite correct to try to make sense of this
mysterious line. I think it holds a big clue.
-- Steve --