Here's a mass of thoughts on "Gull agaist the wind."
Carrol, I know that you weren't saying that Gulf WAS a typo but,
on a Gulf/gull possible typo: Gulf is capitalized mid-sentence making
it appear to be part of a place name. I speculate on the Gulf of Saint
Lawrence; Southam mentions the Gulf Stream but that flows not TOO far
away. Gull is capitalixed but it begins the sentence.
Is it the same gull at Belle Isle as at the Horn (as I imagine)?
I picture the same gull because then we have a creature that knows
when to fight and when to go with the flow.
If "claims" is a plural noun then shouldn't "Gulf" be "Gulf's"?
"White feathers in the snow" could be the imagine of a live gull
but would it be in the snow lying on the ground or on an ice flow
or would the gull be in flight in a snowfall?
The word "claims" may have worked some subtle magic on me to think
of death but I think other imagery in the poem had a greater effect
(such as "decaying house" and the "fractured atoms" right before
and on the same line as the gull). At the time atoms, indivisible
for centuries, were being to be thought of being divisible.
"Fractured atoms" then conjures up in my mind TOTAL annihilation
(there's nihil again, as in nihilism).
But shouldn't the image of "an old man driven by the Trades/
To a sleepy corner." be considered along with the gull? Not only
is it immediately following the gull lines but it is connected to
them with an "and." We have the image of the wind still and it is
midway between Belle Isle and the Horn. And the wind dies there
in the horse latitudes. And Gerontion may too in his sleepy corner.
Another reason to consider a dead bird.
Another thing to think about is whether Eliot is making a comparison
being the gull and Gerontion (or humankind) and what that may be.
As for the commas - I'm not sure whether to take them as they are.
When I set out analyzing Gerontion I said that I took the poem as
a typewritten version where I couldn't even take the punctuation as
being correct. Eliot could be playing with our minds.
I once came upon an anecdote about President Calvin "Silent Cal"
Coolidge. One of his aides watched him for about fifthteen minutes
staring off into space on the old presidental yacht. The aide was
thinking about the weight of the office that Coolidge had to bear.
The president finally came over to the aide and remarked "See that
seagull over there? He hasn't moved. I think he's dead."