On 9/28/02, Nancy and Marcia wrote:

>  > > Nancy:
>  > >
> > > But it does matter, for
> > > example, that "on Margate sands/ I can connect nothing with nothing" was
> > > written when he had just been to Margate and was having a breakdown.
>  In terms of the poem, how does it matter?
>  Marcia

Nancy already gave one answer in a subsequent post, namely that it matters
that TSE put in personal references in a work while theorizing about
"impersonality" -- a classic magician's trick of misdirection.

Another answer is that, to me, it adds a great deal of emotional force,
poignancy, to learn about the circumstances under which a work was created.
Of course, since  'emotional force' exists in the mind of the individual
reader, I can't 'prove' it to you if you don't feel the same thing.

But I can't help wonder -- does it make any difference to the impact of
Beethoven's fifth symphony on a listener when you learn that the opening
notes represent "fate knocking on the door" as he realized to his horror that
he was going deaf? Does it matter that "The Diary of Anne Frank" is an actual
diary of an actual  young girl in an actual war? I mean, it COULD be a
fictional account, right? And maybe in 500 years all records will be lost and
no one will know for sure if the diary was fiction or not, or even if WW2
ever happened or not. Does this matter to the emotional impact of the work?

Perhaps it boils down to the difference of life at college and, frankly,
life. At college, one studies humanity as if it were a fascinating bug under
a microscope. It's distant, safe, and antiseptic. After college, real people
suffer real pain and write about it to get relief. It's the difference
between being touched by a doctor who has gloves on and being touched by a

It really does matter.

-- Steve --