The images preceding it are redolent of sailing, first Eliot's own
experience then that either related to him or Conrad again, any number of
plot lines by Conrad -- protagonist, if not old altogether then old in
spirit drifting for years through the world, stuck mostly on the Trade
latitudes. It evokes the several pages describing the life of the maritime
insurance man in Lord Jim or the thoroughly unpleasant hotel in Victory.
That kind of life, lived for years in tropical zones where things don't so
much get done as ferment to sudden explosions of occurrence. Then finally
that last return to Europe and his present state of terminus. And the image,
from Fitzgerald's biography by Arthur C. Benson.
"in a dry month old and blind, being read to by a country boy, longing for
Recapitulated it braces the poem, fore and aft, as the old man being read
to, as thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season. Having spent a good deal of
his life around Cancer and Capricorn he woujld almost reflexively await the
arrival of the monsoons in midsummmer, rains that never come as he slowly
A life rich in both experience and a kind of exotic boredom, and filled with
regret. There is nothing remaining of this life but a skeleton. And that
skeletal remnant is the backbone of this poem. Not all of it mind you, but
the spinal column to be sure.
on 2/17/03 4:36 PM, Carrol Cox at [log in to unmask] wrote:
> Beyond the circuit of the shuddering Bear
> In fractured atoms. Gull . . . .
> How would you scan "And an old man driven by the Trades" incidentally?
>> -- Steve --