Mock serious indeed. Remember the poem on Webster,
the skull beneath the skin, or whatever (I get that
stuff all mixed up in my mind). You've hit it just right.
Those who take the lines seriously are indanger of mockery.
 
What kind of soil SHOULD one use for planting corpses, anyway?
How does one plant a corpse? Has Eliot's corpus been smothered
in all the muck that's been piled on it? The point is critical.
 
P.
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">cr mittal
To: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2007 11:29 AM
Subject: Re: The Yoruba and TSE

"the Dog" in TWL
 
There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying 'Stetson!
'You who were with me in the ships at Mylae!
'That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
'Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
'Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?
'Oh keep the Dog far hence, that's friend to men,
'Or with his nails he'll dig it up again!
 
I've always been struck by the mock-serious nature of this passage. 
At surface a jolly dig at Stetson's act of guilt/sin, its gravity resounds
as a leitmotif in TWL -- violation of the sanctity of sex -- the fires of
lust raging at the heart of a human wasteland.
 
"That corpse you planted last year in your garden" has its sequel in
 
White bodies naked on the low damp ground
And bones cast in a little low dry garret,
Rattled by the rat's foot only, year to year. 
  
One can imagine a mischievous smile on the face of the speaker
who has knowledge of Stetson's act of debauchery and crime.
One is reminded of 'Burbank' where "The boatman smiles" even as
Princess Volupine alights the boat to entertain Sir Ferdinand Klein.
 
As for
 
'Oh keep the Dog far hence, that's friend to men,  
'Or with his nails he'll dig it up again!
 
"the Dog" (with a capital D) could easily be an allegorical representation
of Conscience -- otherwise "friend to men", but not so in these matters ;) 
 
The graver aspect, however, of setting aside the voice of Conscience/Dog
is metaphorically brought to the fore when, "Past the Isle of Dogs"
-- divested of moral scruples  --  humans are reduced to
no better than drifting barges and logs of wood:
 
The barges drift
With the turning tide
Red sails
Wide
To leeward, swing on the heavy spar.
The barges wash
Drifting logs
Down Greenwich reach
Past the Isle of Dogs.
    Weialala leia
    Wallala leialala
 
Well, just a reading of sorts :)
 
Cheers!
 
CR


Marcia Karp <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
What is so chilling in Eliot's use of the lines is that there is menace, but no betrayal, in a wolf's, a foe's, digging up buried men, but that a dog, a friend,
would is horrifying.


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