>My point is/was that a poet of Eliot's skill should
>know how to control his imagery. . . Unless he was
>incredibly insenitive to the context of the imagery
>he chose one must assume he chose it because he knew how it
>would be understood and wanted it to be so understood. To use
>such imagery and not mean it to be anti-semitic is evidence
>of a tin ear. Eliot didn't have a tin ear did he?
No, he did not -- I think we can agree on that point.
But could there be reasons for using such imagery in a poem other than the
poet actually _advocating_ anti-Semitism?
For example, what if Eliot was trying to show that humankind is doomed to
death if Christ is rejected (as Eliot believed happened when Christ appeared
on Earth). Following some of the supposed anti-Semitic lines about the rats,
we know that "the boatman smiles". If the "boatman" is an image of Death
(Charon), then rejecting "the Jew" may not be a good thing to be doing --
that is, Death is pleased by this foolish rejection.
Even if you don't think that the boatman is Charon, the point is that the
poem can have strong negative images, even images that are, on the surface,
anti-Semitic, and yet the poet's intent may be something quite different
from attacking the Jewish people.
Remember that song by Randy Newman called "Short People"? It had lyrics like
Short people got no reason
They got little hands, little eyes
They walk around tellin' great big lies
They got little noses and tiny little teeth
They wear platform shoes on their nasty little feet
Well, I don't want no short people
Do these lyrics prove that Randy Newman is a bigot?
-- Tom --