The OT thread on the phrase and concept "free gift" made me want to look at how Eliot deals with "gifts" and "giving" in his poetry.
I first thought of "The Journey of the Magi." Eliot leaves gold, frankincense, and myrrh out of the poem, but the journey itself and the alienation following it seem to constitute almost a "free gift" of homage, and of the speaker's whole life. I say "almost" because I realize that one line--"it was (you may say) satisfactory"--hint that this homage is satisfaction for a debt or payment for the privilege of witnessing the Nativity. But this is as dry a hint as possible, and the sense of satisfaction, at least to me, is overwhelmed by the sense of sacrifice. So is the magus's expereicne a human counterpart of grace--an act of piety freely given without expectation of return?
It's an interest post-conversion contrast to the giving in The Waste Land: "Datta: what have we given?/ My friend, blood shaking my heart/The awful daring of a moment's surrender/Which an age of prudence can never retract/By this, and this only, we have existed." Here, the emphasis seems to be on mutuality, rather than on selfless and lonely generosity; the speaker and friend shared some intimacy that made both of their existences real. there is a similarity between the giving in the two poems, though; it both cases, the act of giving seems to be an oasis in an otherwise empty life.
From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Carrol Cox [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Monday, June 15, 2009 11:40 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: OT - St Augustine
"O'Sullivan, Brian P" wrote:
> Nancy asked
> "When did "gift" become "free gift," as if one ever paid for a gift?"
> I realize that this is a rhetorical question, but Google Books can suggest an actual answer: it happened sometime before 1520, when Luther wrote the following in his "Letter to the Christian Nobility of the Nation of Germany, Concerning the Reform of the Christian Estate":
> "Let this be your fixed rule: What you must buy from the pope is neither good nor of God; for what is from God, to wit, the Gospel and the works of God, is not only given without money, but the whole world is punished and damned because it has not been willing to receive it as a free gift."
I think it is possible to gloss "free gift" (of/from God) in a
non-redundant sense: It (presumably grace) is a gift which God _freely_
gives: The gift is neither a _necessary_ expression of the Nature of God
nor is it given for the purpose of receiving anything back. God does not
_need_ to create, nor does God _need_ the love of humans; hence all his
actions with respect to humans (creation, gift, etc) are _free acts."
"Necessity approach not me" (or something like this) the Father
proclaims someplace in Book III of PL. God is self-sufficient and need
not create in order to be Himself.