Interestingly, the wind has broken the inhibitions
about discussing Christian elements in Eliot's preconversion poetry.
I vaguely remember someone saying those elements don't
need to be discussed because they are already covered in
the literature. Larer thought on that idea provoked in me
the sense that that was a disingenuous remark, for just about
everything we say on this list is covered in the literature.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Chokh Raj" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 2010 4:04 PM
Subject: Re: ending of 'Gerontion" (was Eliot's Readership)
Thanks for both your observations, Rick. One comes by such insights but
In reading 'Gerontion', though, one needs to work out, vis-a-vis the human
situation, the implications of the gull flying against the wind, or flying
with the wind -- with utter annihilation awaiting the gull in either case --
as well as the implications of this spectacle driving Gerontion to a sleepy
corner. One would wonder what the wind represents. There are numerous
references to it:
"I an old man, / A dull head among windy spaces."
"Vacant shuttles / Weave the wind."
"An old man in a draughty house / Under a windy knob."
Maybe, read in the following context, the wind discloses its character:
"What will the spider do,
Suspend its operations, will the weevil
Delay? De Bailhache, Fresca, Mrs. Cammel, whirled
Beyond the circuit of the shuddering Bear
In fractured atoms. Gull against the wind, in the windy straits
Of Belle Isle, or running on the Horn,
White feathers in the snow, the Gulf claims,
And an old man driven by the Trades
To a sleepy corner."
Incidentally, this wind is different in nature from the one that has a
prophetic character in TWL & Ash-Wednesday:
"The wind / Crosses the brown land, unheard." [The Waste Land]
"And God said / Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only / The wind
will listen. And the bones sang chirping / With the burden of the
grasshopper, saying..." [Ash-Wednesday]
To me, the wind in 'Gerontion' seems more like "But at my back *in a cold
blast* I hear / The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to
ear." [The Waste Land]
Interestingly, in his poetry Eliot distinguishes between fire & fire, wind &
wind, water & water. The dichotomy seems central to his perception of
Thanks for getting me athinking.
--- On Wed, 3/10/10, Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Good stuff, Rickard.
> Rickard A. Parker wrote:
> > *Running* is a sailing term (remember Eliot was a
> sailor) that means
> > sailing with the wind blowing from the stern to the
> bow. I thus read
> > the passage somewhat as follows:
> > Gull [flying] against the wind, in the
> windy straits
> > of Belle Isle, or [the gull flying with
> the wind] [on/at] the Horn,
> > Also note the Damyata section of TWL where there is a
> bit of ambiguity
> > with the word *beating*. "Beating heart" is
> somewhat obvious but
> > *beating* is another sailing term (and Eliot writes of
> a boat,
> > responding, and controlling hands.) Beating is sailing
> against the
> > wind where, with proper control of the boat, the
> sailor zig-zags
> > at angles to the wind to progress againt it.