Considering the death of Phlebas and a a possible
The poem describes him as:
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep seas swell
And the profit and loss.
A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.
I don't see any redemption here. Far from redemption I
see oblivion. Far from finding redemption for his past
life, his past life has come to nothing.
In answer to the general question about the
relationship of this image of Phlebas to a general use
of water as an image, this image is very specific.
Death by water is a life in which every thing is lost
and nothing is gained. It is somthing to be greatly
--- Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Gunnar, Tom and Rick: Doesn't the discussion below
indicate that the Eliot's use of "water" as a symbol
in TWL is so equivocal that it cannot be connected to
any consistent signified? This would not be a flaw in
Finnegans Wake or Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons
(water is water is water) or any text that takes
semantic shifts as a subject, but in a poem that is
otherwise symbolic it seems a misstep. Diana
From: Gunnar Jauch <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum."
<[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Fearing death by water
Date: Wed, 8 Aug 2007 20:26:28 +0200
Am 08.08.2007 um 17:40 schrieb Rickard A. Parker:
>I wrote to Diana (in part and on Fri, 3 Aug 2007):
>>Somewhere in this long thread I believe you asked
>>something like "Why fear death by water?"
>Tom Gray quoted this in a reply and added (on Fri, 3
>>Doesn't Eliot provide and answer to that question?
>>"Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as
>I'm reading your reply as Eliot setting up the
>died and you will too." While certainly true, I
don't see that as a
>reason to fear death. Diana and CR were discussing
>quality of Phlebas' drowning. I'm not going to go
that far myself
>but it doesn't appear to be a death to be feared.
Nor did the
>drowning of the fishermen in the draft of the poem.
>to The Tempest scattered within the poem (Those are
>eyes.) Other Eliot poems that have death by water
also don't seem
>me to be fearful of a death by water.
> Rick Parker
did you consider the last line of Prufrock:
"Till human voices wake us, and we drown."
They seem to imply redemption by seaweed wreathed
sea-girls as well as fear.
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