The deaths by water in the initial Waste Land typescript were in some
cases horrific, as in the initial opening of "Death by Water," driven by
wind toward an Arctic long white line" "frightened beyond fear,
horrified past horror, calm." Or as in the disgusting images of
"Dirge," which does not transform the "Graves' disease in a dead
man's/jew's eyes" or give much comfort in the ''sea change" that is
"lace that was his nose." Nor is the prospect especially inviting or
redemptive in "Dans le Restaurant," its first appearance.
It seems possible, even likely, that these lines remained in when much
of the horrific context had been cut by Pound. But drowning, in any
case, is not a refreshing or quick dowse like Baptism. Not having
experienced it, I can't be explicit, but it has never sounded soothing
to me. Why, after all, do we use the torture of waterboarding to force
information--not that it suggests any likelihood of doing more than
eliciting anything the torturer wants in order to stop it. Its purpose
is to feel like drowning and so to be too horrible to be borne.
Why this continual assumption that "drowning"--even in a poem that calls
it "fear" and originally made it a voyage into terror--is something we
must translate into the comfort of conversion or salvation?
>>> Gunnar Jauch <[log in to unmask]> 08/08/07 2:26 PM >>>
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 Aug 2007):
>> Doesn't Eliot provide and answer to that question?
>> "Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you"
> I'm reading your reply as Eliot setting up the comparison "Phlebas
> died and you will too." While certainly true, I don't see that as a
> reason to fear death. Diana and CR were discussing the redemptive
> 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. Nor the allusions
> to The Tempest scattered within the poem (Those are potatoes that were
> eyes.) Other Eliot poems that have death by water also don't seem to
> 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