Ken Armstrong wrote:
> Didn't the angel of death kick Neruda's bucket of life well before
> Inventions of the March Hare?
> I'm curious why Eliot is called base or repugnant, particularly if in
> reference to writing he did not complete or publish? Or is it in
> reference to poetry he did choose to present to the public? I don't
> think anything in Collected Poems is base, though base situations are
> presented in the poetry; and claims against his unpublished poetry are
> weak at best.
Let us recognize the existence of a variety of points of view in the
world. From the perspective of quite a few of those points of view (held
by reasonable people) the following is base:
I too awaited the expected guest.
He, the young man carbuncular, arrives,
A small house agent's clerk, with one bold stare,
One of the low on whom assurance sits
As a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire.
This looking down one's nose at "One of the low" (by what standards is
he any lower than the poet?) can indeed be viewed as contemptible. In
fact, during WW 2, Bernard De Voto, editor of Harper's, attacked Eliot
precisely on the basis of this passage.
And what about
Two and two, necessarye coniunction,
Holding eche other by the hand or the arm
Which betokeneth concorde. Round and round the fire
Leaping through the flames, or joined in circles,
Rustically solemn or in rustic laughter
Lifting heavy feet in clumsy shoes,
The time of milking and the time of harvest
The time of the coupling of man and woman
And that of beasts. Feet rising and falling.
Eating and drinking. Dung and death.
Is not this condescension contemptible?
I'm neither agreeing nor disagreeing with these judgments. I'm just
saying that those who might make them (or have made them) may be wrong,
but that they are wrong is not self-evident.