This is brilliant, Rickard. Thanks SO much.
Brings back the Eliot we used to know before the cheese skippers got at him.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Rickard A. Parker" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, April 24, 2006 3:30 AM
Subject: Re: Of 'Usk' : The pub poet's riddle!
> From The Guardian article:
> > Eliot came to enjoy alcohol after his second marriage in 1957, but was
> > notorious for much of his life for his single dry sherries at literary
> > gatherings. However, he always enjoyed crossword puzzles.
> Now for the rest of the story (a repost from Wed, 13 Nov 2002):
> I don't normally like sending in large excerpts from books but, after a
> lot of consideration, I thought that this was too good and covered so
> much in a few paragraphs that I simply had to. It might help out
> research too.
> The material is from pages 170-3 from:
> Poets in their Youth
> A Memoir
> Eileen Simpson (was married to John Berryman, the John mentioned
> The speech in Stockholm that is mentioned was for Eliot's acceptance
> of the Nobel Prize.
> Rick Parker
> T. S. Eliot, although in the country at the time, was not in the
> Gotham photograph, nor was he at the party. He was in Princeton. The
> previous year, when he had been in New York, Bob Giroux, his friend
> and editor, invited John to join them for tea. On the train to the city,
> John was only a little less nervous than he had been before meeting
> Yeats. But once the three of them were talking about poetry and
> publishing, he was far more self-possessed than he had been in the days
> when he had been "a monk of Yeatsian order" meeting the High Priest.
> At Bob's apartment:
> The poet hunched, so, whom the worlds admire,
> Rising as I came in; greeted me mildly,
> Folded again, and our discourse was easy,
> While he hid in his skin taut as a wire,
> Considerate as grace, a candid pyre
> Flaring some midday shore; he took more tea,
> I lit his cigarette. . .
> John was impressed with Eliot's gravity and honesty. About each
> writer whose name came up, Eliot said neither more nor less than he
> thought. Cal's work he felt "had the real punch." While staying with
> Bob, Eliot had been working on two lectures he was going to give
> in Princeton. For days before his arrival the academic community was
> in a state of excitement that reached fever pitch when word went
> through the campus, into the Balt, down Nassau Street, through the
> students' clubs that T.S.tststststs was arriving on the 12:10. Alexander
> Hall was packed and aquiver that evening--not, however, as John said
> drily, because of the speaker's subject: poetic diction. Unlike other
> famous writers from England who had come to Princeton and, patronizing
> an American audience, delivered what John called "kindergarten
> lectures on poetry," Eliot aimed what he had to say at the listeners
> with the keenest interest and the widest knowledge of his subject.
> In November of 1948, when Eliot returned for a two-month stay
> at the joint invitation of the University and the Institute, he was at
> first left so much on his own, no one daring to invite him to dinner,
> that he ate at the Nassau Club every evening. It was when Richard,
> who was seeing him frequently for lunch at the Institute, caught on
> to this that he had proposed to Helen that they invite Eliot for dinner
> and she had said, "Let him bring his own chop." Other women didn't
> feel the same way. When word got out that one hostess had invited
> the year's Nobel Prize winner for Literature, others hurriedly followed.
> Once Eliot began to be lionized John was reluctant to invite him,
> and he might never have done so but for the Macdonalds' visit.
> Dwight had been one of the people in the United States whom Eliot had
> been most eager to meet. He had become a fan of politics during the war
> years, when he felt that its reporting on the war was uniquely free of
> cant. Bob had taken him down to the Macdonalds' apartment, where
> the conversation had gone so well that Eliot was eager to continue it.
> When John called to invite him for a drink, and to see the Macdonalds
> again, he said he would be delighted to come. To avoid any resemblance
> to a cocktail party, we invited only one other person, Paul Goodman,
> who happened to be in town for the day.
> Mr. Eliot gave the impression of being so tall he had to stoop to
> get through the doorway of our apartment. The changes in his face
> brought about by age, the deep creases around his eyes, nose and
> mouth, were so much in the direction of its original character that at
> sixty he was recognizably the good-looking man with the slicked-down
> black hair (now graying) of the early photographs. His manner was
> as formal as his dress, the conservative dress of an English banker.
> Shyness had been disciplined into courtesy. On being introduced he
> made an effort not to avert his eyes, as one felt he would have done
> as a young man. Instead he faced one directly, and took a moment
> longer over the exchange of greetings than was usual even with people
> whose graciousness is studied.
> When John congratulated him on the prize, and added, "High time!"
> Eliot said, "Rather too soon. The Nobel is a ticket to one's own funeral.
> No one has ever done anything after he got it." John protested: It was not
> so. "All of Yeats's great poetry was written after he received the
> Can't one therefore look on the prize as a recognition of promise?"
> Eliot was delighted and said, "That's how I shall try to look on it."
> With Dwight, whose manner remained unchanged no matter to whom he was
> speaking, Eliot seemed at ease. When the talk turned to poetry readings,
> he said that although he was willing to lecture, he looked
> upon a man's reading his own verse in public as "indecent exposure."
> With no effect that we could see, he drank off five martinis. ("Did
> you count five, too?" John asked afterward. "If I hadn't seen it, I
> wouldn't have believed it.") When Paul Goodman, a premature hippie,
> arrived--his hair flying in all directions, his clothes ripped and
> stained, his shoes muddy--and John made the introductions, Paul leaned
> toward the guest of honor and said, "I didn't get it. What's the name?"
> "Eliot. Tom Eliot." He seemed amused rather than offended, as he
> was amused by the noisy verbal cross fire that Dwight and Paul and
> John fell into whenever they were together.
> (After Eliot left, Dwight remonstrated with Paul, "Goodman, my God!
> What manners! You knew damn well who he was." Paul, all innocence,
> blamed his myopia.)
> Eliot excused himself for having to leave early. His acceptance
> was not yet finished and he was flying to Stockholm in a few days.
> At the door he asked John how he had found Pound on his last visit to
> St. Elizabeth's. John, who talked with Mrs. Pound whenever she was
> there about what one could do for her husband, said to Eliot,
> "Won't you try to get him back to writing verse?" Eliot shook his head.
> "If one could get a word in . . . Do you?" Rarely, John responded,
> sad to think that these two old and close friends could not communicate.
> Seeing his guest to the taxi, John asked, "Do you think Pound will ever
> finish the Cantos?" "If he does," Eliot said enigmatically, with a
> wave, "he will die."
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