Dear CR, 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"). However, I would not agree that the response is unambigously deprecating. I think that the speaker is already BEYOND such a superficial evaluation, or if you like, beyond the frustration of a romantic idealist. The speaker is deep within the sordid. He/she is of the sordid "constituted"... Yes, he/she smells the obnoxious effluvia of the passageways at six. Yes, he/she did see and does hear the "muddy feet". Yes, he/she did hear"the sparrows in the gutters", and did have a vision of some kind (which is incomprehensible for the street); Yes, his/her soul is at the same time "stretched tight across the skies" (his/her idealistic longings), AND trampled by "insistent feet", AND it is "the conscience" of a repulsive street, AND "impatient to assume the world" (impatient to create the ideal). BUT, at the same time, 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, dirty-handed; All in all, he/she is by no means a frustrated idealist. The worlds of both an idealist and of the sordid street "revolve [within him/her] like ancient women / Gathering fuela in vacant lots." These "worlds" are merely "constructions", merely "points of view", which can be laughed at for their pretensions to exclusivity. [the very laugh which reminds me of Mozart in Hesse's /Steppenwolf]/ // Therefore, I do not agree that the speaker deprecates the obnoxious aspects of his/her existence. I would rather think that, all in all, what he/she does is - he/she is contemplatively prestent to the world. Which is an attitude far from an aesthetic/idealistic/romantic prejudice. 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". --- Looking forward to you response. Marcin > Thanks, Marcin, for this engaging discussion on 'Preludes". > > I'm afraid I do not find any evidence in the poem that could > substantiate your following remark: > > // Thus being "moved" by the "fancies", in itself, would be > symptomatic of sympathy on the part of the speaker. > He/she seems to sympathise with the "hands", the "feet", > the "eyes" with all the synecdochically mutilated > inhabitants of his/her world. // > > The narrator does assume different (not differing) > identities -- from "The grimy* *scraps / Of withered leaves > about _your_ feet", in Prelude I, to the impersonal > "_One_ thinks of all the hands..." in Prelude II, to > " _You_ had such a vision of the street..." in Prelude III. > Prelude IV makes a departure in that it begins with > " _His_ soul stretched tight across the skies..." but > concludes with "_I_ am moved by fancies..." as well > as "Wipe _your_ hand across your mouth, and laugh..." > > Marcin, I take note of the _deprecating_ note in each of the > Preludes irrespective of the identity the speaker assumes. > And I find no evidence of his/her _sympathy_ with the social > scene he/she depicts. In Prelude I, there are adjectives like > "burnt-out", "smoky", "grimy", "withered", "vacant", > and "broken". The speaker's impatience with this mundane > reality is signified in the image of a lonely cab horse that > "steams and stamps". It is disillusionment such as this > that is ancillary to the metaphoric "lighting of the lamps". > > The note of deprecation continues in Prelude II that > depicts the other "masquarades" of time with qualifying > adjectives like "stale", "muddy" and "dingy". > > In Preludes III, in the "thousand sordid images of which > your soul was constituted", the qualifier "sordid" > underscores the speaker's sense of disgust with > his/her existence -- the image of "sparrows in the > gutters" does not merely describe the scene. These > images induce in the speaker "a vision of the street..." > > Preludes IV tells us of the impact of this sordid reality > on the soul of the speaker --- "His soul stretched tight > across the skies" vis-a-vis the "conscience of a > _blackened_ street..." > > The lines "I am moved by _fancies_ that are curled / > Around these images, and cling" hardly indicate any > sympathy for them. For, these only engender "The > notion of some infinitely gentle / Infinitely suffering > thing." This "infinitely gentle" being obviously owes > his/her infinite suffering to the impact of this dismal > social scene on his/her psyche. > > Finally, the speaker laughs away the emotion in the > manner of Laforgue, not without the parting comment > about the timeless nature of the world's futile and > debasing engagements. > > I, therefore, find a note of unity in the speaker's response > to his/her sordid and dreary existence, in spite of the > apparently differing identities he/she puts on. > > Incidentally, those who are familiar with the chronology > of the Preludes' composition, know that Preludes I & II > were written in October 1910, Preludes III (begun in > Paris, 1910; completed in July 1911 ), and Preludes > IV (Cambridge, Mass., 1911). > > In bringing them together as one poem, the poet seems > to have deliberately chosen to retain differing pronouns > -- it would lend a wider validity to the experience of > continued disillusionment with the sordid reality > of the social scene. > > I'm not sure if my arguments hold. But they're there :) > > Regards. > > ~ CR > > > > > > > ------------------------------------------------------------------------ > Do you Yahoo!? > Get on board. You're invited > <http://us.rd.yahoo.com/evt=40791/*http://advision.webevents.yahoo.com/mailbeta> > to try the new Yahoo! Mail.