You make some very perceptive observations.
These, I believe, are crucial to our understanding of
Eliot's poetry, especially that he chose to publish
in his lifetime.
# the speaker in Preludes seems to be attempting
a resolution of apparent dichotomies.
# The subject - object dichotomy of the Cartesian
approach is presented in the poem, I think, as both
# The speaker's awareness of "multitude of
solipsisms", and of his/her own partaking in such an
epistemic situation, is a step towards the sense of
alienation endemic in this very situation.
# While there is no way out of it, the speaker comes
to understanding that all the worlds constructed by
solipsistic ego-subjects are merely "points of view"
"revolving like ancient women / Gathering fuel in
# Those "worlds", with their pretensions to exclusivity,
in the context of mystical experience of the ONE
("infinitely gentle"), may seem, I imagine, somewhat
Marcin, I consider them precious statements --
there's no question of my disagreeing with any of
them, except maybe in the working out of their
ramifications here and there vis-a-vis Eliot's
Let me now compliment you for the following
remarks you make in your reply to my post:
# I do agree - there seems to be unity in the speaker's
response to his/her everyday ("in spite of the apparently
differing identities he/she puts on").
# The speaker is deep within the sordid. He/she is
of the sordid "constituted"...
# no matter how repulsive the street seems to him/her,
he/she is there and within; one among many "raising
dingy shades"; "sitting along the bed's edge", yellow-soled,
# I imagine that this is what Eliot has in mind writing in
his essay on Dante: "The contemplation of the horrid or
sordid or disgusting, by an artist, is the necessary and
negative aspect of the impulse toward the pursuit of
beauty....The negative is the more importunate."
# There is no gainsaying that the dichotomy between
the ideal and the real is the central dichotomy which
informed TSE's thought and sensitivity.
# I agree with Harriet Davidson, that TSE in both his
poetry and thought was trying to resolve dichotomies
of various kinds, by "hermeneutic [...] circular grounding
of seeming opposites in each other".
Marcin, thanks a lot for raising these points, all of them
exceedingly crucial to our understanding of the central
dilemma in Eliot's poetry. Dunja in one of her posts did
draw our attention to this dilemma -- of the central
protagonist of Eliot's poetry (please take it to mean
the poetry Eliot chose to get published) -- that of being
at the same time a part of this world's corruption as well
as a detached spectator contemplating the baseness, the
futility and the meaninglessness of man's earthly
engagements, as well as of his own life. Throughtout,
there is a growing urge to break loose from this
soul-killing ambience of sordidness and drudgery,
and reach out for a spiritually satisfying mode of life.
It is in this context that TSE remarked that
"The contemplation of the horrid or sordid or disgusting,
by an artist, is the necessary and negative aspect of the
impulse toward the pursuit of beauty....The negative is
the more importunate."
And this is what the poet, in my considered opinion, is
doing in the 'Preludes'.
This, I hope, supports those statements of yours which
elicit my admiration and praise. And this, I hope, will
take care of the areas where we tend to disagree.
Many thanks again, Marcin, for your painstaking
elucidation of your perceptions. I wished I could dilate
upon the centrality of each one of these many points
in Eliot's poetry. But, there will be time...
I'll only be too glad to elaborate on any of "your"