I don't really know AW, but isn't this directly linked to the same "Word"
as in Gerontion: the "Word without a word; the eternal Word not able to
speak a word", from Lancelot Andrewes' Nativity sermon? (Which is, of
course, the Word of Genesis, and so dealing with the relationship between
the modern world and God.) Actually, from a very cursory reading there
seems to be a great deal in common between Ash Wednesday and Gerontion.
Incidentally, does the second part of the quoted verse seem at all trite to
anybody? It's rhyme scheme seems to lack the sophistication of much of
Eliot's other work, and I wonder whether this is as a deliberate device or
whether it's just a difference in tastes between Eliot and ourselves (or,
then again, maybe it's just me).
At 09:28 PM 3/14/2003 -0500, you wrote:
>AW comes shortly after Eliot's conversion, and therefore after he had
>decided, with reluctance, that he did not wish to express his spirituality
>principally through non-Western forms. I think few would dispute that he
>was still under the influence of Indian religious philosophy, though; most
>likely, in my view, he appreciated the convergence of the traditions in
>the use of "word" (as in Genesis). Sort of like the Fire Sermon in TWL.
>Thanks for bringing up AW. Everytime I read portions of it, it amazes me.
>In a message dated 3/13/2003 8:53:52 AM Eastern Standard Time, Vishvesh
>Obla <[log in to unmask]> writes:
> >I quoted Eliot's 'Ash Wednesday' elsewhere since it
> >was Ash Wednesday last week and a friend of mine, who
> >is a very spiritual person and well knowledged in
> >Indian spirituality, was struck by Eliot's emphasis on
> >the 'Word' from the stanza quoted later. Eliot's
> >poems interest me not for their allusions (very
> >scholarly and varied, and hence interesting, though)
> >but for the poetry they get transformed to. My friend
> >asked me if I could explain what Eliot refers to the
> >'word'. I could understand that Eliot makes some kind
> >of allusion to the Upanishadic 'AUM' in the stanza.
> >But then, I thought I could see how others perceived
> >it before I made any comment on it to him. I would
> >appreciate any of your comments on it.
> >Thank You.
> >PS : Here is the stanza:
> >"If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
> >If the unheard, unspoken
> >Word is unspoken, unheard;
> >Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
> >The Word without a word, the Word within
> >The world and for the world;
> >And the light shone in darkness and
> >Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
> >About the centre of the silent Word.
> >O my people, what have I done unto thee.
> >Where shall the word be found, where will the word
> >Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
> >Not on the sea or on the islands, not
> >On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,
> >For those who walk in darkness
> >Both in the day time and in the night time
> >The right time and the right place are not here
> >No place of grace for those who avoid the face
> >No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and
> >deny the voice..."