Well, the question of sincerity has been discussed for a long time in
relation to his work. What does it mean if one rejects the notion of a
lyric voice and relies on the idea of impersonality anyway? And how
does one know that the voice of a persona has the poet's "sincerity"?
I assume you mean here that all voices are really Eliot's voice if you
attribute a poet's sincerity to them, but if that is true, then why not
speak directly? Why take on the voice, say, of an old man when one is
still in one's twenties and make him devoid of sense and of passion?
Who is "we" or "us"? I am fascinated by quite different aspects of
Eliot's work--the diction, rhythm, complexity, insincerity, recognition
of even perverse emotional states. Gerontion is a very strange and
disturbed figure, not a prophet or a voice of love, and he is describing
not just his failure to fight but his disintegration.
>>> cr mittal <[log in to unmask]> 06/11/07 6:13 PM >>>
Yes, indeed, Eliot's poetry is a compendium of failure to dare.
But then much of the greatest literature is as much about failure.
To me, the greatness of Eliot's poetry lies, in part, in the
uncompromising sincerity with which it contemplates the failure
and accounts for it :
I that was near your heart was removed therefrom
To lose beauty in terror, terror in inquisition.
And it'll continue to fascinate us as a spiritual saga of failure, of
Gull against the wind, in the windy straits / Of Belle Isle
even if it's
White feathers in the snow, the Gulf claims . . .
Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Prufrock is full of moments lost because of inability to dare. "Do I
dare disturb the universe?"
The narrator in the Hyacinth girl episode
The less attractive version in "Dans le Restaurant"
Gerontion who was not at the hot gates
The lady and the speaker of "Portrait of a Lady" whose lives are both
The narrator of "Rhapsody on a Windy Night," walking the night streets
and returning to "prepare for life"
In fact all the observers of life in the "Prufrock" volume who never act
or live but only wander and observe
"Our lot" in "Whispers of Immortality"
Both characters in the first part of "A Game of Chess"
The Hollow Men
the small soul in the window seat
I think, however, that some messages are taking "dare" to refer to
Eliot. I think he was a daring poet, and he dared to leave home and
live as he chose. I don't think he did dare to live emotionally, and
the surrender with Viv did make any further ability almost impossible.
Ironically, after all his life, it was only human love that ever really
did make him happy. He had seven years of it--that's a lot. But his
denials of it are always ambiguous and disturbed and filled with
Even in the young man carbuncular scene, he may think he dared, but he
is only presumptuous and smug; she is bored and never responds. So he
assaults; I don't know if that is daring in any emotional sense.
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