You mean as in
" The thousand sordid images
Of which your soul was constituted; " ???
Have you corncidered:
Boredom, horror and glory:
It is an advantage to mankind in general to live in a beautiful
world;that no one can doubt. But for the poet is it so important?
We mean all sorts of things, I know, by Beauty. But the essential
advantage for a poet is not, to have a beautiful world with which
to deal: it is to be able to see beneath both beauty and ugliness;
to see the boredom, and the horror, and the glory. (126)
Eliot,T.S. "Matthew Arnold." THE USE OF POETRY AND THE USE OF
CRITICISM. London: Faber, 1933.
Baudelaire and LaForgue:
I think that from Baudelaire I learned first a precedent for the
poetical possibilities, never developed by any poet writing in my
own language, of the more sordid aspects of the modern metropolis,
of the possibility of fusion between the sordidly realistic and the
phangtasmagoric, the possibility of the juxtaposition of the matter
of fact and the fantastic. From him, as from Laforgue, I learned
that the sort of material that I had, the sort of experience that
an adolescent had had, in an indus trial city in America, could be
the material for poetry; and that the source of new poetry might be
found in what had been regarded hitherto as the impossible, the
sterile, the intractably unpoetic. That, in fact, the business of
the poet was to make poetry out of the unexplored resources of the
unpoetical; that the poet, in fact, was committed by his profession
to turn the unpoetical into poetry. A great poet can give a younger
poet everything that he has to give him, in a very few lines. It may
be that I am indebted to Baudelaire chiefly for half a dozen lines
out of the whole of Fleurs du Mal; and that his significance for me
is summed up in the lines:
Fourmillante Cite, cite pleine dereves,
Ou le spectre en plein jour raccroche le passant...
I knew what that meant, because I had lived it before I knew that I
wanted to turn it into verse on my own account.
Eliot, T.S. "What Dante Means to Me." TO CRITICIZE THE CRITIC.
London: Faber, 1965.
I an old man
A dull head among windy spaces.
Signs are taken for wonders. "We would see a sign!"
The word within a word, unable to speak a word.
Swaddled with darkness. In the juvescence of the year
Came Christ the tiger.
In depraved May, dogwood and chestnut, flowering judas,
To be eaten, to be divided, to be drunk
Among whispers ....
from "Gerontion" by T.S. Eliot
from SWEENEY AGONISTES (from memory)
I knew a man once, did a girl in
Every man has to, needs to, wants to do a girl in.
Well he kept her there in the bath,
With a gallon of lysol in the bath
What about them bones on Epsom Heath?
----- Original Message -----
From: "Vishvesh Obla" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, September 11, 2006 7:15 AM
Subject: 'contemplation of the horrid or sordid or disgusting
The contemplation of the horrid or sordid or
by an artist, is the necessary and negative aspect of
impulse toward the pursuit of beauty....The negative
the more importunate."
I had been struck by 'Eliot's contemplation of the
horrid or sordid or disgusting' and I am glad that
this is being discussed here -- struck for the very
reason that it has parallels with Flaubert, in the
sense that Eliot preferred to stay away from life in
the Lawrentian sense (A relative note : Lawrence was
appalled by the disgust of life by a genius as Swift
who couldn't bear the thought that his dear Julia
Are there any indicators from Eliot's own works as to
what constituted 'the horrid or sordid or disgusting'
--- cr mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Dear Marcin,
> You make some very perceptive observations.
> These, I believe, are crucial to our understanding
> Eliot's poetry, especially that he chose to
> in his lifetime.
> # the speaker in Preludes seems to be attempting
> a resolution of apparent dichotomies.
> # The subject - object dichotomy of the Cartesian
> approach is presented in the poem, I think, as
> inalienable andalienating...
> # The speaker's awareness of "multitude of
> solipsisms", and of his/her own partaking in such
> epistemic situation, is a step towards the sense
> alienation endemic in this very situation.
> # While there is no way out of it, the speaker comes
> to understanding that all the worlds constructed
> solipsistic ego-subjects are merely "points of
> "revolving like ancient women / Gathering fuel in
> vacant lots."
> # Those "worlds", with their pretensions to
> in the context of mystical experience of the ONE
> ("infinitely gentle"), may seem, I imagine,
> Marcin, I consider them precious statements --
> there's no question of my disagreeing with any of
> them, except maybe in the working out of their
> ramifications here and there vis-a-vis Eliot's
> Let me now compliment you for the following
> remarks you make in your reply to my post:
> # I do agree - there seems to be unity in the
> response to his/her everyday ("in spite of the
> differing identities he/she puts on").
> # The speaker is deep within the sordid. He/she is
> of the sordid "constituted"...
> # no matter how repulsive the street seems to
> he/she is there and within; one among many "raising
> dingy shades"; "sitting along the bed's edge",
> # I imagine that this is what Eliot has in mind
> writing in
> his essay on Dante: "The contemplation of the
> horrid or
> sordid or disgusting, by an artist, is the
> necessary and
> negative aspect of the impulse toward the pursuit
> beauty....The negative is the more importunate."
> # There is no gainsaying that the dichotomy
> the ideal and the real is the central dichotomy
> informed TSE's thought and sensitivity.
> # I agree with Harriet Davidson, that TSE in both
> poetry and thought was trying to resolve
> of various kinds, by "hermeneutic [...] circular
> of seeming opposites in each other".
> Marcin, thanks a lot for raising these points,
> all of them
> exceedingly crucial to our understanding of the
> dilemma in Eliot's poetry. Dunja in one of her
> posts did
> draw our attention to this dilemma -- of the
> protagonist of Eliot's poetry (please take it to
> the poetry Eliot chose to get published) -- that
> of being
> at the same time a part of this world's corruption
> as well
> as a detached spectator contemplating the
> baseness, the
> futility and the meaninglessness of man's earthly
> engagements, as well as of his own life.
> there is a growing urge to break loose from this
> soul-killing ambience of sordidness and drudgery,
> and reach out for a spiritually satisfying mode of
> It is in this context that TSE remarked that
> "The contemplation of the horrid or sordid or
> by an artist, is the necessary and negative aspect
> of the
> impulse toward the pursuit of beauty....The
> negative is
> the more importunate."
> And this is what the poet, in my considered
> opinion, is
> doing in the 'Preludes'.
> This, I hope, supports those statements of yours
> elicit my admiration and praise. And this, I hope,
> take care of the areas where we tend to disagree.
> Many thanks again, Marcin, for your painstaking
> elucidation of your perceptions. I wished I could
> upon the centrality of each one of these many
> in Eliot's poetry. But, there will be time...
> I'll only be too glad to elaborate on any of
> points :)
> ~ CR
> Do you Yahoo!?
> Everyone is raving about the all-new Yahoo! Mail.
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