----- Original Message -----From: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">cr mittalSent: Thursday, September 21, 2006 11:27 AMSubject: Re: Eliot, India and Untranslated LanguageThanks, Diana, for quoting very insightful excerpts fromCleo McNelly Kearns.Interestingly, when Eliot's attention was drawn to themantric quality of the Vedas, he remarked he wishedpoetry were mantras again. (ref. Anand, Mulk Raj :'Conversations in Bloomsbury', Delhi: Oxford UniversityPress, 1995) It is in this context that Kearns' followingstatement acquires a special significance:"Eliot translated these dimensions of mantra-shakti, ormantra power, to the language of poetry, where meaningwas 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 isdiscernible not only in the rhythmic effects of verse but alsoin its revelatory aspect. To quote Baudelaire, "In certainalmost supernatural states of the soul, the depth of life isrevealed in ordinary everyday happenings. The ordinarylife then becomes the symbol so that the images from theexternal world correspond to the poet's own inner life,loaded with deep spiritual meanings." I find this revelatoryaspect suffusing Eliot's poetry to an extent that nothing elseseems to matter. I find it there from first to last, especiallyin the poetry that Eliot chose to get published in his lifetime.As to why Eliot chose to retain expressions from otherlanguages in his poetry as such and not their Englishtranslations, it's a moot question, a matter for justspeculation. One reason could be the mantric qualityinherent in the sounds and rhythms of the originals,which might not always be amenable to the samecondensed version in English. For another, itconspicuously draws attention to the insights drawnupon variegated sources in the Indo-European"tradition".I must thank you again, Diana, for drawing ourattention to this fascinating subject.Regards.~ 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.Diana
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