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At 01:52 PM 2/18/2003 -0500, you wrote:

>It's an interesting discussion.

  Deadbeats notwithstanding, I'm with you on this one, Steve. Eliot, in one
of his essays, asks the pointed question, "To what end?" I don't think
there are any of his finished poems that lose sight of the import of that
question. Superficial readings--readings that rationalize away the
necessity of digging for meaning--of Eliot poems aren't much better than
first impressions. They can be dull or fascinating, but they leave most of
the poem untouched.

Ken Armstrong


>While I certainly believe poets put together images for all sorts of reasons,
>I think, in the end, there actually ARE reasons. If you look at the
>back-and-forth editing of TWL by Eliot and Pound (and look in the LETTERS to
>see how they discussed individual words), and also look at the editing of
>some of the 4Q passages between Eliot and John Hayward (again, discussing
>specific words), I just don't see that Eliot's works were put together
>without great attention to detail. He may not have planned it all out from
>day 1, but upon re-reading it, he edited out words and punctuation that
>didn't work.
>
>Just look at the TWL editing. He's got comments to Pound like "I'll used
>'closed car' -- I've already use 'taxi' and I can't use 'taxi' more than
>once". In other words, he's thinking about every word, every image. What I'm
>trying to say is that while the whole poem may not be planned out in gory
>detail before any of it is committed to paper, I think that the final version
>(that the readers get to see) IS gone over in minute detail. So I'm agreeing
>with you that it may be only 'afterwards" that "it all fits", but, in the
>end, it all fits.
>
>Put another way, Nancy, do you believe in "close reading"? The way I
>understand "close reading" is that the reader looks at and questions every
>detail in the text, from images to punctuation to meter to rhyme scheme, etc,
>etc, etc, all for the purpose of appreciating the artistry and understanding
>meaning. If the final work was not carefully constructed, "close reading"
>would be a pointless exercise since the poem is not that carefully made.
>
>Personally, I think close reading of TSE is the only way to go. So if he
>says, "Rachael nee Rabinovich" we shouldn't just say "some kind of
>Anti-Semitic slur". We should say things like: "Rabinovich" -- "Rabbi's
>daughter", why is that there? And "Rachael nee Rabinovich" -- Gee, I don't
>know Rachael's married name, only her maiden name. Why is he doing THAT? What
>IS her married name?
>
>Anyway, that's how I approach poetry in general and TSE in particular.
>
>-- Steve --