In a message dated 10/28/2003 10:50:34 AM Eastern Standard Time,
[log in to unmask] writes:
> Does anybody know if the limerick pre-dated
> Waste land (or another version of it maybe
> pre-dated it...) or if it was written after it ...
> Was Eliot refering to it?
> and What is the most probable meaning
> behind these 3 lines ...
> Sorry about showing that limerick, I do not like it,
> but I am very interested by possible connections
> and my question is not a bad joke.
I would like to refer you to an article called "Stetson in The Waste Land"
by Donald Childs that was published in the April 1988 issue of "Essays in
Criticism". In that article, Childs argues that there is a relationship among the
characters of Stetson, Mr. Eugenides, and Mrs. Porter, and that the
relationship revolves around the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915. That battle involved
Turkey, Greece, and other WW1 participants, such as Australia.
As Child's notes, the Australian solders at Gallipoli were known as ANZACS,
an abbreviation for "Australian and New Zealand Army Corp".
As you know, TSE's notes to the Mrs. Porter line are, "I do not know the
origin of the ballad from which these lines are taken: it was reported to me
from Sydney, Australia". As the Childs article points out, Australian solders
played a role in the battle of Gallipoli (the area in the Dardanelles), a battle
at which TSE's friend Jean Verdenal was killed (TSE's book "Prufrock and other
observations" is dedicated to Jean Verdenal: "For Jean Verdenal, 1889-1915 /
mort aux Dardenelles").
Below are a few brief excerpts from Childs' article, which will make much
more sense to you once you've seen the whole work:
"I suggest that the Stetson addressed in 'The Burial of the Dead' in an
Anzac soldier -- the reference to Stetson being a reference to the famous felt hat
worn by Australian and New Zealand soldiers during the First World War."
Why should Eliot reference Australian soldiers? "Because the [Australian
soldiers are a reference to Gallipoli] and a reference to Gallipoli is Eliot's way
of referring to Jean Verdenal".
"In the end, I explain the reference to Stetson as follows: the Smyrna issue
debated at the Near East Conference in London in 1921 prompted Eliot, at the
very time he was composing the first draft's of The Waste Land, to recall the
disastrous invasion of Gallipoli in 1915 and death in that campaign of his
friend Jean Verdenal. With memories of Gallipoli and London's Anzac Day parades
active in his imagination, he wove Gallipoli and Australia into the dense fabric
of the poem's allusions -- first by indirect reference to the famous
Australian Stetson, and then by direct quotation of the bawdy song the Australian
soldiers sang ["Mrs. Porter"] as they charged the beaches of Gallipoli. The name
Stetson thus gives rise to a cluster of personal and public images, evoking at
the conclusion of 'The Burial of the Dead' images of Australians, of mud at
Gallipoli, of Verdenal's corpse, and of a corpse in Egypt, and evoking in 'The
Fire Sermon' the image of Mrs. Porter in Cairo and the image of a Greek
merchant from Smyrna."
-- Steve --