Sounds like it just doesn't suit your taste.
From: Carrol Cox [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Friday, September 26, 2003 9:24 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Assumptions ex machina
Marcia Karp wrote:
> I hope no one thinks that what you've probablied is actually so.
> Among Davie's honest and hard-thought critical works, I suggest _Purity
> of Diction in English Verse_ and especially _Articulate Energy_.
(Minor Note: Anyone who wants to see Davie kicked around should see Ian
Sansom's review of D.J. Enright, _Injury Time: A Memoir_ in the current
(9/25) issue of the LRB)
Davie is almost always worth reading, even when one disagrees with him.
I only know well the two books Marcia mentions, plus his book on Pound.
Reading his later work in snatches over the years I have gotten the
impression that were I to read him more extensively I would be in rather
sharp disagreement with him on many social and cultural issues.
Be that as it may, I learned a good deal from _Articulate Energy_ when I
read and reread it in 1960 and 1961. It would be worth anyone's time,
for instance, to examine Davie's commentary (p. 71) on the following
Wandering lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
All at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
(I have not made any typographical errors.)
Browsing through Articulate Energy for the last 20 minutes reveals much
that I would now disagree with, but nothing that can be treated with
As to the Eliot lines at issue
Consequence of further days and hours,
While emotion takes to itself the emotionless
Years of living among the breakage
Of what was believed in as the most reliable-
And therefore the fittest for renunciation...
I would like to see a gloss on them. Renunciation, or the theme of
renunciation, makes me slightly ill in my stomach, which is rather a
barrier to my grasping the lines. Why are years among the breakage (of
what) thereby "emotionless"? The word is not only ugly (which may have
been intended, given the play of various 'instruments' in 4Q) but a lie.
No human life is without emotion.* And what is the sense of making
"emotion" an agent that governs an active verb. Personification? But if
not personification, what?
*And see Antonio Damasio's _Descartes' Error_: Thought is impossible
without an intertwining of emotion. The brain is 'built' so as the two
are separable but neither occurs without the other. "Emotionless life"
is a dull oxymoron.