Nancy Gish wrote:
> I don't know what the Yoruba still have to do with this, but the issue
> seems to be the same problem of unity or non-unity of The Waste Land
> that has been in question since 1922. Regardless of how one reads it,
> it is not simply a given that there is any resolution, any "whole," or
> any continuity of lust as the only problem. These are all topics for
> analysis rather than facts, and there is not agreement on them.
Probably someone has made the following case already (perhaps on this
list) -- but one could make a good argument that if one wants to see a
real unity in the poem, one has to see the primary writer as Pound not
Eliot. Eliot produced a mass of material, Pound went through that
material and extracted a poem from it. This of course was what Pound was
later to do with Renaissance documents on Sigismundo, 18th-c french
translations of a Chinese history, a mass of material by John Adams,
etc. So Eliot, looked at this way, would be the author of TWL only in
the way that John Adams is the author of Cantos 62-71. But of course
Eliot placed his Imprimatur on it, making it his own, by publishing it.
> For example, I do not see any implication of lust at all in the specific
> image of Stetson unless the murder is taken as a sexual-sadistic one, a
> view for which I do not see any language in the text. Where is it if
> you see it?
I agree -- and would go further. "The Fire Sermon" seems more about the
_absence_ of lust than lust itself.
To Carthage then I came
Burning burning burning burning
O Lord thou pluckest me out
O Lord thou pluckest
St. Augustine had a 'right' to this language, since he knew what lust
was having experienced it. (Didn't he have a prayer something like "O
Lord, make me chaste, but not too soon" or was that just someone's
parody?) Lust in TWL is a label, not a human activity realized in any
way. The problem with the modern city is that it doesn't have the vigor
of Carthage, not that it is too much like Carthage. Pound had already
published Mauberley -- perhaps Augustine is one of those few thousand
battered books the war was fought for?
> And the ending sticks "Shantih" immediately after a collapse of language
> and an allusion to Hieronimo, who used a play in several languages to
> constuct a murder of all the players, though he was not mad at the time.
> I do not see how this resolves even a theme of murder.
Again, what the poem does return to over and over again seems to be an
absence of any strong desire -- of any lust for life itself:
Datta: what have we given?
My friend, blood shaking my heart
The awful daring of a moment's surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract
By this, and this only, we have existed
Which is not to be found in our obituaries
Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider
Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor
In our empty rooms
It is almost tempting to comment, "Doesn't he wish!" A biographical
construal I suppose could gloss this as referring to his friend dead at
Incidentally, why is the spider beneficent?