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RAC> I first read the poem over 20 years ago and have since re-read it many, many
RAC> times. I have also discussed the poem with list members, looked at critical
RAC> material, and have read an unpublished analysis of it (from a list member).

RAC> Even after all that, I simply do not feel I have a basic understanding of
RAC> what TSE is trying to convey. Given that TSE had written to his brother that
RAC> this poem was one of the best poems he had ever done, I'm left feeling
RAC> totally lost.
As long as you grasp that:

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
All time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable...

human kind/Cannot bear very much reality...

The whole earth is our hospital
Endowed by the ruined millionaire,
Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care\
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere...

You don't see them, you don't -- but I see them: they are hunting me
down, I must move on...

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us and we drown...

He who was living is now dead
We who were living are now dying
With a little patience...

Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying...

There should be not much problems with "Sweeney and his Birds".