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TSE  March 2013

TSE March 2013

Subject:

Re: Two Eliot letters to translators of his works

From:

"Rickard A. Parker" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Thu, 21 Mar 2013 15:14:59 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (210 lines)

On Wed, 20 Mar 2013 10:50:50 -0400, Tom Colket <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> Carrol and Nancy:
> 
> I'd like to add a few points of clarification to my
> last post, since I'm truly uncertain if we agree or
> disagree about the value of Eliot's comments.
> 
> When I read any literary criticism/commentary I ask
> myself a few questions:
> 
>  a) How well does the person know the material they're
> writing about?
> 
>  b) What time-frame was the criticism written in (for
> example, is there new information that would cause the
> criticism to be obsolete or modified)?
> 
>  c) Does the critic have discernible motives that might
> be skewing the analysis?
> 
> In the case of the TSE's letters to the translators
> that I posted, I'd answer the above questions by saying
> that Eliot is an expert on the poems, and the letters
> were written within a few years of both TWL and Journey
> of the Magi (so the writings are not obsolete or
> distorted by a failing memory of long-ago events). As
> far as motives, here he's not writing some published
> essay to boost his reputation or adding published notes
> to a poem to influence how people read his work. It
> seems plain to me that TSE is simply explicating parts
> of the works so that the translators can better
> understand the nuances of what they are trying to
> translate.
> 




Dear Tom,

You may find the following another Eliot contradiction.
In light of what you have written above I would be very
interested in comments by you and others.

This deals with Jean de Menasce’s 1926 French translation
of "The Waste Land," "La Terre mise à nu" (later entitled
"La Terre Gaste") and Eliot's input on the an early draft
but please bear with me for a bit.

If there are two fragments in TWL that are connected it
would seem that they have to be the Hyacinth garden
incident and voice of the thunder's Datta section.

   Part I:
     35   'You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
          'They called me the hyacinth girl.'
          --Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
          Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
          Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
    40    Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
          Looking into the heart of light, the silence.

   Part V:
   400    DA
   401*   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
          Which is not to be found in our obituaries
   407*   Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider
          Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor
          In our empty rooms

Now in Part II of TWL as published we have:
   121                                                 'Do 
          'You know nothing?  Do you see nothing? Do you remember
          'Nothing?'
          
   124        I remember
   125    Those are pearls that were his eyes.
   126*   'Are you alive, or not?  Is there nothing in your head?'
But in one of the drafts (my caps show changes):
    I remember
    THE HYACINTH GARDEN. Those are pearls that were his eyes, YES!
This seems to indicate that there was a man there (the drowned
Phoenician Sailor?)  Even though Eliot removed the direct
reference to the garden in the published version of the poem he did
leave behind  an indirect reference in his note to line 126
   ('Are you alive, or not? Is there nothing in your head?'),
that note being "Cf. Part I, l. 37, 48."  So Eliot means
that we should compare Part II, line 126 :
    126)  'Are you alive, or not? Is there nothing in your head?' 
to Part I, line 37 :
    37)  --Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
and to Part I, line 48 :
    48)  (Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!) 

Now moving on from Parts I and II to V.  In the final
version of TWL the thunder speaks:
    401) Datta: what have we given?
    402) My friend, blood shaking my heart
but Eliot seems to have misheard Prajapati at first
because in a draft he had (again CAPS point out changes):
    Datta: WE BROTHER, what have we given?
    My friend, MY FRIEND BEATING IN my heart
Here is another reference to a man.

Again in draft form but just a bit later was something
like this:
    Damyata. The wind was fair and the boat responded
    Gaily, to the hand expert with sail and oar.
    The sea was calm, and your heart responded obedient
    Gaily, when invited, beating responsive
    To controlling hands. I left without you.
    Clasping empty hands I sit upon the shore
    Fishing ...’

I can't help but think of "Clasping empty hands" as an
allusion to Tennyson's lament to Arthur Hallam in "In
Memoriam."  See III, VII and X (I include them below but
there are "hands" mentioned many times in "In Memoriam"
see http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/tennyson/im/hand.html )

The Houghton Library at Harvard University has copies or
the original de Menasce drafts with Eliot's annotations
and there one can find a "e" underlined three times.
So, in TWL, with all this maleness written out on the
page (in a draft anyway) why do you think that Eliot
would correct de Menasce’s translation of "My friend,
blood shaking my heart" from his "Mon AMI, le sang
faisait battre mon coeur" to "Mon AMIE, le sang faisait
battre mon coeur", changing the gender of the friend
from male to female?

Regards,
   Rick Parker

--------------

In Memoriam

III

O Sorrow, cruel fellowship,
O Priestess in the vaults of Death,
O sweet and bitter in a breath,
What whispers from thy lying lip?

'The stars,' she whispers, `blindly run;
A web is wov'n across the sky;
From out waste places comes a cry,
And murmurs from the dying sun:

'And all the phantom, Nature, stands—
With all the music in her tone,
A hollow echo of my own,—
A hollow form with empty hands.'

And shall I take a thing so blind,
Embrace her as my natural good;
Or crush her, like a vice of blood,
Upon the threshold of the mind?


VII

Dark house, by which once more I stand
Here in the long unlovely street,
Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, waiting for a hand,

A hand that can be clasp'd no more—
Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
And like a guilty thing I creep
At earliest morning to the door.

He is not here; but far away
The noise of life begins again,
And ghastly thro' the drizzling rain
On the bald street breaks the blank day.


X

I hear the noise about thy keel;
I hear the bell struck in the night:
I see the cabin-window bright;
I see the sailor at the wheel.

Thou bring'st the sailor to his wife,
And travell'd men from foreign lands;
And letters unto trembling hands;
And, thy dark freight, a vanish'd life.

So bring him; we have idle dreams:
This look of quiet flatters thus
Our home-bred fancies. O to us,
The fools of habit, sweeter seems

To rest beneath the clover sod,
That takes the sunshine and the rains,
Or where the kneeling hamlet drains
The chalice of the grapes of God;

Than if with thee the roaring wells
Should gulf him fathom-deep in brine;
And hands so often clasp'd in mine,
Should toss with tangle and with shells.

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