My concern is the need for some genuine discussion and debate about the
poetry in place of a series of statements that assume (as opposed to
justify) that what we are discussing is religion. There is nothing in
my questions below to call for past posts because they are asked only
about what was in the previous post.
These assumptions about religion are not at all obvious, and I am simply
querying their constant presence. "Concerns" is not really an apt word
since it implies that what is going on is simply an exchange of facts.
It is a discussion, and one can enter it at any point.
My point in the message below is that the text is not based in obvious
truths. It is a complex poem and can be read in many ways. The focus
on religion is only one and one that does not necessarily match what we
know about Eliot's own religious attitudes in 1919-1921.
So you need not offer any alternative unless you like, but I am not at
all required to fit any program (as in "raise concerns" at some specific
I do not think TWL is primarily about religion though obviously it has
religious references. I do not think the reading that it is a prelude
to finding faith is a sufficient explanation of what it depicts. I
think anyone still claiming that needs to justify it as part of a
framework for the poem rather than a series of separate comments on
images assumed without explanation to be religious. And I especially do
not think one can understand images in isolation. I don't have any
responsibility to say that at any time before now.
>>> Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> 07/31/07 11:23 PM >>>
I would be in a better position to address your concerns if
you were to refer to any of my past posts, Nancy Gish.
I cannot take up any of the issues here without recourse to
what I have already said before -- if you had had any concerns
then you should have raised them then and there.
Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
I'm confused. With what, in the first point, do you agree? I asked a
How can you affirm that her wet hair represents pure, undefiled passion?
Whose? In the prior version of this, "Dans le Restaurant," the old
waiter is the one desiring, and the narrator sees him as sordid and
disgusting. In this one the speaker feels nothing at all. Is it hers?
Then does "passion" fit an innocent girl hurt by the change in one who
It is just this announcing of "this represents that" that I am trying to
ask questions about.
Nothing in the text is obvious. I've been reading TWL and others on it
all my life and it is not at all obvious to me that it is what you
state. That is why it is still a subject of fascination and diverse
readings after 85 years. So the question remains, what is the nature of
the poem itself? What is it about and why? Christianity in hindsight
is not a given.
>>> Chokh Raj 07/31/07 9:55 PM >>>
Nancy Gish wrote:
>Why do you assume the poem has "a narrator"? That itself is a very
>contested claim. And why, unless it is a lyric, would the narrator's
>desire be the same as Eliot's?
Agreed there, Nancy.
> And in what sense is the wetness on the Hyacinth girl's hair
>either lust or spiritual life since it seems quite clearly to many
>readers an image of young and innocent desire?
The water here represents passion -- pure, undefiled -- what
St. Augustine (I'd quoted) refers to as something he defiled :
"I defiled the very source of friendship by the filth of
and its clear waters I befouled with the lust of hell ....
BTW I had said water as a metaphor for emotional and
spiritual life, it is clear and regenerative. Earlier I had
written of the yearning in the poem for the life-giving waters
of "spirtuality and love".
>I ask these questions because I am trying to suggest that the poem is
>not a set of clues to a puzzle and it is not a set of limited
>like "lust" vs. "spirit."
But one cannot close one's eyes to what is so obvious in the text --
I have never said a word without quoting to substantiate my point
from the text -- and always in relation to the poem as a whole.
>Nor is it clearly spoken by one narrator--or if it is, by whom?
>Some say Eliot; some say Tiresias; some say a persona in the role
>These isolated and disparate speculations need some context and
> overall framework to provide a reading. I respond to you in this
>because this is the message that turned up; the response is to a whole
>line of commentary.
This point is already addressed above.
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