Within a few months Eliot found himself responsible for a somewhat
bemusing success. The poem won the 1922 _Dial_ award; the first
impression of one thousand copies was rapidly succeeded by a second;
it was rumoured that the author had perpetrated a hoax; the line "Twit
twit twit" was not liked; the "parodies" were pronounced "inferior" by
Mr F. L. Lucas; Arnold Bennett inquired of the author whether the
notes were "a lark or serious", and was careful to specify that the
question was not insulting. The author said that "they were serious,
and not more of a skit than some things in the poem itself". Mr
Bennett said that he couldn't see the point of the poem. The _Times
Literary Supplement_ reviewer felt that Mr Eliot was sometimes walking
very near the limits of coherency, but that when he had recovered
control we should expect his poetry to have gained in variety and
strength from this ambitious experiment.
He had written a poem which expressed for many readers their sense of
not knowing what to do with themselves; as he later put it, with
Bradleyan subtlety, "their illusion of being disillusioned".
He was credited with having created a new mode of poetic organization,
as he had, though specific instances of the cinematic effect were as
likely as not attributable to Pound's cutting. Also he was singled out
as the man who had written an unintelligible poem, and _with
notes_. The author and annotator of this "piece that passeth
understanding" was not insensitive to the resulting climate of
jest. Six years later he capped a comparison between Crashaw and
Shelley by calling for elucidation of the "Keen as are the arrows"
stanza of _To a Skylark_: "There may be some clue for persons more
learned than I; but Shelley should have provided notes."
The Invisible Poet: T.S. Eliot
McDowell, Obolensky, New York, 1959
1) Dickery, dickery dock,
2) The mouse ran up the clock;
3) The clock struck one,
4) The mouse ran down,
5) Dickery, dickery dock.
1) Hickery, dickery doc in wooded hospital zones.
2) This is _Mus_ musculus, the common house mouse. In his book,
_Wainscot Wascals_, E. Fudd sagely wrote "While it is true that the
early bird gets the worm it must be remembered that it is the _second_
mouse that gets the cheese."
3) An analog, pendulum driven, Grandfather variety. It was 0700 UTC.
5) v. l. 1