I wasn't thinking of Eliot's thinking, er....
I was thinking of his poetic sensibilities and his perceptions.
Not the same thing. Eliot told us himself that Dante was a major
influence, and that from about 1910 If one reads that
early Dante essay one will see that he wasn't interested in Dante's
thought, but in his creativity. He was also interested in D's structure
(hell, purgatory, heaven) and his form (poetic techné). He was
learning from a master. However, he also thought Dante's thinking
was inseparable from his technique and xcreativity. They were/are
all of a piece. So, no doubt, he paid attention to that too.
All I'm trying to indicate is that Dante was deliberately and consciously
present in Eliot's poetic endeavours from at least 1910, based on his own
I do not feel that I have anything more to contribute, on the subject of
Dante's poetry, than I put, years ago, into a brief essay. As I explained in
the original preface to that essay, I read Dante only with a prose
translation beside the text. Forty years ago I began to puzzle out the
Divine Comedy in this way; and when I thought I had grasped the meaning of a
passage which especially delighted me, I committed it to memory; so that,
for some years, I was able to recite a large part of one canto or another to
myself, lying in bed or on a railway journey. Heaven knows what it would
have sounded like, had I recited it aloud; but it was by this means that I
steeped myself in Dante's poetry. And now it is twenty years since I set
down all that my meagre attainments qualified me to say about Dante. But I
thought it not uninteresting to myself, and possibly to others, to try to
record in what my own debt to Dante consists. I do not think I can explain
everything, even to myself; but as I still, after forty years, regard his
poetry as the most persistent and deepest influence upon my own verse, I
should like to establish at least some of the reasons for it.
address to Italian Society on 4 JuLy 1950.
In WHAT DANTE MEANS TO ME.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Carrol Cox" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 2009 5:16 AM
Subject: Re: Frequency of Dante references on this list.
> Peter Montgomery wrote:
> > It's not that the influence necessarily shows up in his poetry
> > in terms of specific, obvious allusions, but unless he was wrong in
> > his own observations, we have his word for the importance of the
> > Given that he took to memorizing whole passages of the COMMEDIA
> > in the original, it is hard to think that his poetic sensibilities and
> > perceptions of
> > his own world were not conditioned by such an exercise.
> But what you say about Eliot here applies equally to Ezra Pound & P.B.
> Shelley: all three emormously influenced AS POETS by Dante. There is no
> evidence that Dante as _thinker_ ever had much influence on any of the
> three (exept, perhaps, Pound). Certainly Eliot's later Christianity
> shows very little DAntean influence.