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Steve Pollack wrote:

> ============================
> Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
> The muttering retreats
> Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
> And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
> Streets that follow like a tedious argument
> Of insidious intent
> To lead you to an overwhelming question...
> ========================


> In other words, does the grammar support either of these two
> readings: [...]


In still other words, you want to know which of these sentences with
bracketed phrases to pick:

   Reading I)
      Streets that follow
      [
         like a tedious argument of insidious intent
      ]
      to lead you to an overwhelming question

   Reading II)
      Streets that follow
      [
         like a tedious argument of insidious intent
         to lead you to an overwhelming question
      ]

As written it is ambiguous.  And I have no doubt that the ambiguity
was purposely left in, if not originally written with that ambiguity
intended.

Note that if it is the streets that are leading to the question then
they are following and leading at the same time.  If Eliot was writing
of dogs instead of streets that would cause you to select "argument"
as the object that was leading to the overwhelming question but
streets can follow and/or lead depending on which way your head is
turned when walking.

All that said, the strongest feeling that --I-- get is that it is the
streets that lead to the question, not the argument.  Probably on the
strength of the preceeding street imagery.

Regards,
    Rick Parker


P.S.  There is another way of parsing this:

   Reading III)
      Streets that follow
      [
         like a tedious argument
         [
            of insidious intent
            to lead you to an overwhelming question
         ]
      ]

That is to say that what is leading is not the street nor the argument
but the intention.  This is --somewhat-- close to being the argument
that is leading so, at least for now, I'll ignore the third reading.