Rickard A Parker wrote:

> Marcia Karp wrote:
> > If what you say is true -- that the writing of the poem was a coping
> > strategy for the wounded poet -- in what ways does your insight matter
> > to the reading of the poem?  I don't mean in what ways was Eliot
> > affected by his own life, but in what ways do readers benefit from
> > knowing the facts of his life?
> This might not be a word I would thought of using before quoting
> Joseph Campbell but what is wrong with compassion?
> Or admiration?  Did you ever see a quasi-autobiography in this form
> before?
> There are many ways to read "The Waste Land."  Some may really take
> your fancy, others make you at least consider some good thoughts and
> still others may seem to come from some place strange.  You are free
> to pick and choose any combination (unless your publisher wants an
> original interpretation.)  So, you don't have to interpret TWL as a
> personal grumbling of Eliot's but when I do I feel I get the most out
> of the poem.

Any of us can only know what we know in the ways we know.  I don't find it
untrue or up to me to decided that only someone who has felt a given feeling
or emotion has a chance of expressing it.  All this is a given.  Why is TWL
any more personal than thousands of other lyric poems?

I often am moved to compassion by a poem, and independently by a writer's
skill, bravery, willingness to have written it.  I have admiration for many
poets and their work.  You answered my question as if I were saying there
were no ways biography aids a reading.  I'm asking what are the ways, or how
do they work, and since it is helpful to be specific, I'm asking these
things in regard to TWL and Eliot.  What words, lines, passages change when
you read in the light of your understanding of his life?  When time has
passed and Eliot becomes Anonymous, what will be lost?  These are real
questions; why brush me off with "do whatever you want."

I don't believe the reader is "free to pick and choose any combination" of
reading and still be respectful of the work, that is to exercise compassion
and admire what the poet has done.  Can you read Frost's "Mending Wall" as a
criticism of bourgeois land owners and still maintain that you have respect
for the poem and its creator?  What in the poem lends itself to such a

I have no idea what publisher you are referring to.