Another take is that Sweeney is the new unknown factor being generated
by modern cultural changes, a factor which seems to have no connection
to the past, and stands in complete contrast - like Wyndham Lewis' wild body
or tyro. Society is being blindsided by this new factor. The contrast
the anterior of the poem and the Sweeney stanza is a fine example of a
resonant interval. Cf. the stanza from another Sweeney poem
(forget the title) that goes something like:
The lengthened shadow of a man
Is history said Emerson,
Who did not see the silhouette
Of Sweeney stradled in the son.
Of course one could just claim that Sweeney is an attempt to paint
Jews as one step away from dragging their knuckles on the ground;
I'm not sure what the justification for such a reading would be, but
what the heil, who needs a justification?
----- Original Message -----
From: "Tom Colket" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, February 23, 2007 4:47 AM
Subject: Re: Eliot and Anti-Semitism from the London Review of Books
Robert Meyer wrote:
>Sweeney could be like the "Baptized God" but instead is only taking a
The entire poem up until the final stanza has been about the educated elite
of the church. The poem's language is filled with "big words" like
"superfetation", "piaculative", the Greek phrase "to en" (written in Greek
letters), etc. Sweeney pops up wholly unexpectedly like this:
Sweeney shifts from ham to ham
Stirring the water in his bath.
The masters of the subtle schools
Are controversial, polymath.
Earlier in the poem we had this other reference to a "bath":
A painter of the Umbrian school
Designed upon a gesso ground
The nimbus of the Baptized God.
The wilderness is cracked and browned
But through the water pale and thin
Still shine the unoffending feet
And there above the painter set
The Father and the Paraclete.
I don't think the idea is that Sweeney is only taking a bath. I think it's
more along the lines that Sweeney has more in common with Christ than the
church elite. That's why there are two baths in the poem, and the second one
is not being taken by the "masters of the subtle schools". The final stanza
contrasts Sweeney with those masters.
- Tom -
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