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TSE  July 2007

TSE July 2007

Subject:

Re: The Context of Marie ( Was Re: a Jeremiah sighting?)

From:

Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Thu, 12 Jul 2007 16:20:16 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (320 lines)

These discussions seem to exclude time. As late as 1919 (when he was already working on TWL--"Burial of the Dead" was drafted in spring of 1921) Eliot told his mother his views were "Liberal and strongly opposed to the Government in almost everything." He did not announce his royalism until about 1926 or 1928 (I have to check but it was late '20s). And Marie was a countess, not a duchess--and the illigitimate daughter of the heir to the throne. She married a Count in 1877. She was disgraced in 1889 when she was found to have served as a go-between for the dead archduke and his mistress. So she was probably not being a profligate aristocrat very comfortably by the time Eliot spoke with her. At least that is not an assumption we can make.

This kind of detail matters very much because these are historic figures and Eliot met Marie and transcribed her words verbatim. So at the time of TWL "his allegiance" was not fixed and we may not know how Marie lived or what she felt from a couple of lines.

Another note on "cisterns": Conrad Aiken said that when he first read TWL he recognized lines (377-384) from his and Eliot's days as students at Harvard. As I noted before, some can be found in the Notebook poem "introspection." At that time Eliot had not taken up any of his later Anglo-Catholicism or Royalism or Classicism." My point is that we cannot simply read all this back into much earlier material when he aspoused quite different views--which is not to say that he did not incorporate lines into a later mosaic.

Nancy
  

>>> Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> 07/12/07 3:06 PM >>>
TWL : corruption of a tradition
   
  Nevertheless, class differences were very important to Eliot. These were
  part of his allegiance to a tradition founded on the supremacy of a benign
  king (and a noble aristocracy) where, in a mysterious way, as in the myth
  of the Fisher King, the all-round well-being of the land was said to derive
  from him, the fountainhead of life. This notion is at the basis of TWL.
   
  To begin with, there is Marie, the duchess, an instance of a profligate
  aristocracy. The opening lines seem to describe her situation.
   
  Tristan and Isolde belong here too -- in terms of their class.
   
  And there's "the man with three staves", a figure on a Tarot card
  -- later in the poem he incarnates himself as a king. (Eliot's Notes)
   
  There is, then, the haunting spectrum of two decayed institutions,
  the State and the Church. The spectral crowd of an "Unreal City"
   
  Flowed up the hill and down //King William Street//,
  To where //Saint Mary Woolnoth// kept the hours
  With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.
                                      (emphasis mine)
   
  These are not mere locales. They are profoundly emblematic.
  The "dead" sound betokens the funeral of a king and his state.
   
  The opening of 'A Game of Chess' alludes to queen Cleopatra
  -- the malady that afflicted her percolates to her sex at all levels
  of society -- just as Terius's to his sex.
   
  Above the antique mantel was displayed
  As though a window gave upon the sylvan scene
  The change of Philomel, by the barbarous king
  So rudely forced
   
  The tragedy of the lady with the nerves, and of Lil, is deliberately
  concluded on a tragic note of Ophelia, an aristocrat.
   
  The Fire Sermon was preached by Gautama the Buddha, a prince.
   
  "The nymphs are departed" alludes to Spenser's 'Prothalamion', where
  an idyllic Thames is strewn with flowers by the nymphs to celebrate
  the wedding of the daughters of the Earl of Worcester in 1596.
   
  The lines
   
  Musing upon the king my brother's wreck
  And on the king my father's death before him
   
  obviously account for the wasteland conditions surrounding this imperial
  character, be he Prince Ferdinand, Fisher King, or Oedipus Rex, "fishing
  in the dull canal".
   
  And then, the line "Et O ces voix d'enfants, chantant dans la coupole !"
  (from 'Parsifal' by Paul Verlaine) ceo rudely forc'd. / Tereu" : The poem at this point doesn't fail to
  remind the reader of the sinful deed of king Tereus.
   
  And, of course, the blind Tiresius is a standing reminder of King
  Oedipus's wasteland.
   
  'This music crept by me upon the waters' -- these are the words of
  prince Ferdinand even as he sits bemoaning the supposed death
  of the king, his father.
   
  "Elizabeth and Leicester" -- in his Notes, Eliot refers the reader to
  the flirtation of Queen Elizabeth and Lord Robert Dudley, the Earl
  of Leicester.
   
  Lines 280-5 recall a description of Cleopatra's barge.
   
  According to Eliot's Notes, the lines
   
  Highbury bore me. Richmond and Kew
  Undid me. By Richmond...
   
  allude to the tragedy of La Pia, the Lady of Siena, murdered at
  Maremma and pushed out of a caste window: 'Remember me, who am
  La Pia: Siena made me, Maremma unmade me.' (Dante, Purgatorio v, 133)
   
  The section 'Death by Water', among others is an allusion to
  king Alonso's supposed shipwreck in The Tempest, as well as
  to Ophelia's death by drowning.
   
  Remarkably again, in 'What the Thunder Said', the devastation of
  the land and its people is purposely bracketed with "Falling towers" :
   
    
What is that sound high in the air
Murmur of maternal lamentation
Who are those hooded hordes swarming
Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth
Ringed by the flat horizon only
What is the city over the mountains
Cracks and reforms and bursts in violet air
Falling towers
Jerusalem Athens Alexandria
Vienna London
Unreal
   
  The tragedy of TWL is a tragedy, in the first place, primarily because
  "upside down in air were towers".
   
  And throughout, this fall of a king and his kingdom is associated with
  the loss of faith. The "cisterns" are empty and the "wells" are exhausted
  because "There is the empty chapel, only the wind's home." And one could
  trace this moral and spiritual wasteland to the loss of religious values:
  "He who was living is now dead", the "He" here extending to embrace God.
  The injunction of the thunder, "Datta", is "to give" oneself "to
  another, or to others, or to God" ('East Coker')
   
  "Dayadhvam", to sympathize, to be compassionate, is demonstrated
  in terms of the terrifying consequences of imprisoning oneself within
  one's own ego epitomized in the figures of nobility -- an allusion to
  Ugolino della Gherardesca, a thirteenth century Italian noble with his
  two sons and two grandsons, locked up in a horrible tower where they
  starved to death in Dante's Inferno, and "a broken Coriolanus".
   
  The concluding stanza of TWL opens on a hopeful note with a king
  setting out to "at least set my lands in order", seeking the fertility
  of his lands, "Fishing", "with the arid plain behind".
   
  The line Poi s'ascose nel foco che gli afina evokes the religious
  injunction "Damyata", "to control". The Provençal poet, Arnaut Daniel
  leaps into the refining fires of Purgatory for his sin of lust with
  these words to Dante: "And so I pray you, by that Virtue which
  leads you to the topmost of the stair -- be mindful in due time of
  my pain."
   
  And, as a part of the summing up, there is
  "Le Prince d'Aquitaine à la tour abolie"
  -- an allusion to the disinheritance of the tradition of courtly love,
  its idealization and sublimation of physical passion.
   
  Hah! Too long a haul ! But that's the poem's burden :)
   
  And all this in support of what Diana said about "class" :)
   
  CR


Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote: To me, Eliot's poetry, even when drawing upon experiences of people
  from different social classes, focusses on the human aspect which is
  universal. In Little Gidding, for example, the experience of even a king
  is fundamentally human -- like King Lear's in Shakespeare at the sight
  of a naked beggar: "Is man no more than this?" or somethinthe same effect. Of course, in that
  case this woman, in her childhood, would not stay at the arch-duke's,
  but at some friend's or relative's lodge.

       
---------------------------------
Looking for a deal? Find great prices on flights and hotels with Yahoo! FareChase.


>>> Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> 07/12/07 3:06 PM >>>
TWL : corruption of a tradition
   
  Nevertheless, class differences were very important to Eliot. These were
  part of his allegiance to a tradition founded on the supremacy of a benign
  king (and a noble aristocracy) where, in a mysterious way, as in the myth
  of the Fisher King, the all-round well-being of the land was said to derive
  from him, the fountainhead of life. This notion is at the basis of TWL.
   
  To begin with, there is Marie, the duchess, an instance of a profligate
  aristocracy. The opening lines seem to describe her situation.
   
  Tristan and Isolde belong here too -- in terms of their class.
   
  And there's "the man with three staves", a figure on a Tarot card
  -- later in the poem he incarnates himself as a king. (Eliot's Notes)
   
  There is, then, the haunting spectrum of two decayed institutions,
  the State and the Church. The spectral crowd of an "Unreal City"
   
  Flowed up the hill and down //King William Street//,
  To where //Saint Mary Woolnoth// kept the hours
  With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.
                                      (emphasis mine)
   
  These are not mere locales. They are profoundly emblematic.
  The "dead" sound betokens the funeral of a king and his state.
   
  The opening of 'A Game of Chess' alludes to queen Cleopatra
  -- the malady that afflicted her percolates to her sex at all levels
  of society -- just as Terius's to his sex.
   
  Above the antique mantel was displayed
  As though a window gave upon the sylvan scene
  The change of Philomel, by the barbarous king
  So rudely forced
   
  The tragedy of the lady with the nerves, and of Lil, is deliberately
  concluded on a tragic note of Ophelia, an aristocrat.
   
  The Fire Sermon was preached by Gautama the Buddha, a prince.
   
  "The nymphs are departed" alludes to Spenser's 'Prothalamion', where
  an idyllic Thames is strewn with flowers by the nymphs to celebrate
  the wedding of the daughters of the Earl of Worcester in 1596.
   
  The lines
   
  Musing upon the king my brother's wreck
  And on the king my father's death before him
   
  obviously account for the wasteland conditions surrounding this imperial
  character, be he Prince Ferdinand, Fisher King, or Oedipus Rex, "fishing
  in the dull canal".
   
  And then, the line "Et O ces voix d'enfants, chantant dans la coupole !"
  (from 'Parsifal' by Paul Verlaine) celebrates the occasion of the king's
  healing by Parsifal.
   
  "So rudely forc'd. / Tereu" : The poem at this point doesn't fail to
  remind the reader of the sinful deed of king Tereus.
   
  And, of course, the blind Tiresius is a standing reminder of King
  Oedipus's wasteland.
   
  'This music crept by me upon the waters' -- these are the words of
  prince Ferdinand even as he sits bemoaning the supposed death
  of the king, his father.
   
  "Elizabeth and Leicester" -- in his Notes, Eliot refers the reader to
  the flirtation of Queen Elizabeth and Lord Robert Dudley, the Earl
  of Leicester.
   
  Lines 280-5 recall a description of Cleopatra's barge.
   
  According to Eliot's Notes, the lines
   
  Highbury bore me. Richmond and Kew
  Undid me. By Richmond...
   
  allude to the tragedy of La Pia, the Lady of Siena, murdered at
  Maremma and pushed out of a caste window: 'Remember me, who am
  La Pia: Siena made me, Maremma unmade me.' (Dante, Purgatorio v, 133)
   
  The section 'Death by Water', among others is an allusion to
  king Alonso's supposed shipwreck in The Tempest, as well as
  to Ophelia's death by drowning.
   
  Remarkably again, in the air
Murmur of maternal lamentation
Who are those hooded hordes swarming
Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth
Ringed by the flat horizon only
What is the city over the mountains
Cracks and reforms and bursts in violet air
Falling towers
Jerusalem Athens Alexandria
Vienna London
Unreal
   
  The tragedy of TWL is a tragedy, in the first place, primarily because
  "upside down in air were towers".
   
  And throughout, this fall of a king and his kingdom is associated with
  the loss of faith. The "cisterns" are empty and the "wells" are exhausted
  because "There is the empty chapel, only the wind's home." And one could
  trace this moral and spiritual wasteland to the loss of religious values:
  "He who was living is now dead", the "He" here extending to embrace God.
  The injunction of the thunder, "Datta", is "to give" oneself "to
  another, or to others, or to God" ('East Coker')
   
  "Dayadhvam", to sympathize, to be compassionate, is demonstrated
  in terms of the terrifying consequences of imprisoning oneself within
  one's own ego epitomized in the figures of nobility -- an allusion to
  Ugolino della Gherardesca, a thirteenth century Italian noble with his
  two sons and two grandsons, locked up in a horrible tower where they
  starved to death in Dante's Inferno, and "a broken Coriolanus".
   
  The concluding stanza of TWL opens on a hopeful note with a king
  setting out to "at least set my lands in order", seeking the fertility
  of his lands, "Fishing", "with the arid plain behind".
   
  The line Poi s'ascose nel foco che gli afina evokes the religious
  injunction "Damyata", "to control". The Provençal poet, Arnaut Daniel
  leaps into the refining fires of Purgatory for his sin of lust with
  these words to Dante: "And so I pray you, by that Virtue which
  leads you to the topmost of the stair -- be mindful in due time of
  my pain."
   
  And, as a part of the summing up, there is
  "Le Prince d'Aquitaine à la tour abolie"
  -- an allusion to the disinheritance of the tradition of courtly love,
  its idealization and sublimation of physical passion.
   
  Hah! Too long a haul ! But that's the poem's burden :)
   
  And all this in support of what Diana said about "class" :)
   
  CR


Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote: To me, Eliot's poetry, even when drawing upon experiences of people
  from different social classes, focusses on the human aspect which is
  universal. In Little Gidding, for example, the experience of even a king
  is fundamentally human -- like King Lear's in Shakespeare at the sight
  of a naked beggar: "Is man no more than this?" or something to that
  effect.
   
  You can put Marie's words into the mouth of a middle class woman
  (at Marie's age, though) much to the same effect. Of course, in that
  case this woman, in her childhood, would not stay at the arch-duke's,
  but at some friend's or relative's lodge.

       
---------------------------------
Looking for a deal? Find great prices on flights and hotels with Yahoo! FareChase.

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