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TSE  September 2006

TSE September 2006

Subject:

Belladonna and the hyacinth girl

From:

Rickard A Parker <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Thu, 7 Sep 2006 07:08:14 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (117 lines)

Diana Manister wrote:
> 
> Interesting too is the phrase "I knew nothing" that becomes an echo
> later in the poem when the narrator is asked "Do you know nothing?" by
> the woman whose nerves are bad, and he says "I think we are in rat's
> alley." The light from the latter woman's hair stands out in points in
> a weird occult manner. I'm not sure what to make of the two women and
> the narrator's opposite reactions to them, in terms of the poem's
> unity. Perhaps someone has an opinion on it.


Diana, I'll comment on this.

The "hyacinth girl" (aka Phlebas, bear with me a bit) has died and the
speaker has married Belladonna as a way of moving on.  In the draft:
"I think we FIRST MET in rats' alley". Also in support of this is "Is
the wind in that door still?"  Eliot's note to line 118 refers to a
scene in a play where a dying man is stabbed and then thought killed
but is ironically really brought to life by the stabbing by its having
lanced an earlier wound and causing an infection to be discharged. As
I interpret this allusion the marriage to Belladonna, which closely
followed the hyacinth girl's death, was supposed to kill the
hyacinthine memories. However, the trials of the unfortunate marriage
brought the memory of the Hyacinth garden back to life, even with its
own painful associations.

In addition to the similarities that you pointed out between Part I's
   I knew nothing,
and Part II's
   Do / You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember / Nothing?'
Eliot has placed a note to line 126 connecting the rememberance to
the Hyacinth garden:
    Part I, line 37
    --Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
and to Phlebas:
    Part I, line 48
    (Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!)

In the draft of TWL is a more direct association to the hyacinth garden
as Eliot had written:
    I remember
    the hyacinth garden. Those are pearls that were his eyes, yes!
finally choosing to note this final version of the lines:
    I remember
    Those are pearls that were his eyes.

Elaborating a bit more from the draft. In the draft:
    'What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?'
                        Carrying
    Away the little light dead people.
In the final version:
    'What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?'
   
                        Nothing again nothing.

Valerie Eliot's note to the draft for "Carrying / Away the little
light dead people" indicates that this is an allusion to Paulo and
Francesca and then VE writes SOMETHING like "There is no greater woe
than in misery to remember the happy time."

I'll finish with a bit that I wrote for my website:

     _________________________________________________________________

                                    Inferno
                                    Canto V
                                Dante Alighieri

   In  the  draft  of  The  Waste Land, after the words "What is the wind
   doing?",  Eliot  had  written  "Carrying  / away the little light dead
   people"  ([4]see  draft.)  Considering  those  words,  along with this
   line's  mentioning of the wind, this line has been seen as an allusion
   to  Dante's [5]Inferno, Canto V, where the second circle of Hell holds
   the shades of some of the characters that Eliot alludes to (Cleopatra,
   Tristan,  Dido.)  It  is  likely  that Eliot was alluding to two other
   occupants though, Paolo and Francesca.

   Dante's  rendition  of  the  love  story  of  Paolo  and Francesca has
   affected  many  over  the  eight centuries since it was written (Eliot
   mentioned  it  in  his essay "Tradition and the Individual Talent" and
   gave  it  special  attention in his 1929 essay "Dante.") Paolo was the
   married  brother of Francesca's husband. They spent much time together
   and in Francesca's words:

     "We  were  reading  one  day,  for  delight,  of Lancelot, how love
     constrained  him.  We  were  alone  and without any suspicion. Many
     times  that  reading made us lift our eyes, and took the color from
     our  faces,  but only one point was that which overcame us. When we
     read  of  the  longed-for  smile being kissed by such a lover, this
     one,  who  never  from  me  shall  be  divided, kissed my mouth all
     trembling.  Galahaut was the book, and he who wrote it. That day we
     read in it no farther."

   The lovers were killed and they were comdemed to Hell in the circle of
   the lustful for their adultery. There their souls are to be blown about
   each  other  for  eternity.  The  point  of the allusion is likely, as
   Francesca  said  to  Dante, "There is no greater woe than in misery to
   remember the happy time."

   As  for  the wind, the Norton prose translation of Dante's description
   of this circle is:

     ...  a  place  mute of all light, that bellows as the sea does in a
     tempest,  if  it  be  combated  by  opposing  winds.  The  infernal
     hurricane that never rests carries along the spirits in its rapine;
     whirling  and  smiting it molests them. When they arrive before its
     rushing blast, here are shrieks, and bewailing, and lamenting; here
     they  blaspheme the power divine. I understood that to such torment
     are  condemned  the  carnal sinners who subject reason to appetite.
     And as their wings bear along the starlings in the cold season in a
     troop  large  and  full,  so  that  blast the evil spirits; hither,
     thither,  down, up it carries them; no hope ever comforts them, not
     of repose, but even of less pain.
     _________________________________________________________________

Regards,
    Rick Parker

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