Tom Colket wrote:
> Ken wrote:
> K> He is not asking at the end should he live like this.
> K> He is rationalizing, making up an excuse for his not living.
> K> Shall I say, shall I show myself thus and so.....not, "shall I do,"
> K> not "I _shall_ force the moment to its crisis."
> K> He was on the verge, but retreats.
> He is not retreating all the time. Look again at the lines which show
> he is acting:
> "Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
> The muttering retreats
> Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels"
Sorry, I didn't make myself very clear. He is in retreat at the end of
the poem, starting, actually, the moment the light reflected off the
hair on the woman's arm so throws him off his bent, which by line count
is exactly mid-way through the poem.
> Did he ever actually _experience_ the "rough" part of town, or just
> waste his life _thinking_ about it? Looks to me like he acted, as in:
> "Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets/And watched
> the smoke that rises from the pipes/Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves,
> leaning out of windows?. . .".
I don't get rough from this, but either way it seems to me that what
he is doing here is substituting a future possible memory for an actual
present that he won't take up because he does not win that wrestling
match with the dead lumber in his head. This is him giving up while the
music of a real present haunts him.