The resonant interval rides again

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: cr mittal 
  To: [log in to unmask] 
  Sent: Thursday, September 21, 2006 11:27 AM
  Subject: Re: Eliot, India and Untranslated Language

  Thanks, Diana, for quoting very insightful excerpts from 
  Cleo McNelly Kearns. 

  Interestingly, when Eliot's attention was drawn to the
  mantric quality of the Vedas, he remarked he wished
  poetry were mantras again. (ref. Anand, Mulk Raj : 
  'Conversations in Bloomsbury', Delhi: Oxford University
  Press, 1995)  It is in this context that Kearns' following
  statement acquires a special significance:

  "Eliot translated these dimensions of mantra-shakti, or
  mantra power, to the language of poetry, where meaning 
  was also, for him, communicated through sound or effect,
  which depended on quite subtle arrangements of rhythm, 
  breath, and sound (what he called 'the auditory imagination.)"

  To me, in Eliot's poetry, especially, this mantric quality is 
  discernible not only in the rhythmic effects of verse but also
  in its revelatory aspect. To quote Baudelaire, "In certain 
  almost supernatural states of the soul, the depth of life is 
  revealed in ordinary everyday happenings. The ordinary 
  life then becomes the symbol so that the images from the
  external world correspond to the poet's own inner life, 
  loaded with deep spiritual meanings." I find this revelatory 
  aspect suffusing Eliot's poetry to an extent that nothing else 
  seems to matter. I find it there from first to last, especially
  in the poetry that Eliot chose to get published in his lifetime.

  As to why Eliot chose to retain expressions from other
  languages in his poetry as such and not their English
  translations, it's a moot question, a matter for just
  speculation. One reason could be the mantric quality 
  inherent in the sounds and rhythms of the originals,
  which might not always be amenable to the same 
  condensed version in English. For another, it 
  conspicuously draws attention to the insights drawn
  upon variegated sources in the Indo-European

  I must thank you again, Diana, for drawing our 
  attention to this fascinating subject.


  ~ CR

    Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> wrote: 
      In T.S. Eliot and Indic Traditions: A Study in Poetry and Belief, Cleo McNelly Kearns describes Eliot's study of the Vedas under Charles Lanman at Harvard, and notes his special interest in the Rig and Sama Vedas in which "the aid of the gods was often invoked by means of mantras for the purpose, among other things, of averting drought...mantras correctly uttered or sung became part of the liturgy of sacrifice which gave them additional authority...and a mantra's efficacy was not dependent on its meaning but rather on the subjective effect of the exacting mental discipline involved in its correct utterance, and the accompanying mode of breathing."
      Kearns goes on: "Eliot translated these dimension of mantra-shakti, or mantra power, to the language of poetry, where meaning was also, for him, communicated through sound or effect, which depended on quite subtle arrangments of rhythm, breath, and sound (what he called 'the auditory imagination.)
      "...So directly did Eliot wish to incorporate these auditory aspects of mantra into his work that he employed at the end of The Waste Land the mantric forumula "Shantih, shantih, shantih...." Kearns notes that Eliot omitted the Om that traditionally precedes this mantra.
      I found this pertinent to our discussion of why Eliot did not translate languages in his poetry, but presented them in the original languages. 

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