Given that kings are involved in the poem, it is probably
worth  recalling that one of the early, non-Christian myths of the grail
supposedly evolved from a coronation rite in Ireland, whereby the
king was submerged in a big container of horse's blood, to signify that
he and the land were one.

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Diana Manister 
  To: [log in to unmask] 
  Sent: Saturday, June 09, 2007 5:58 AM
  Subject: Re: The Stetson Passage in TWL

  Nancy, the whole notion of the Fisher King is based on the vegetative/fertility myth, and it's a commonplace that this comprises at least one subtext of the poem. It's the Fisher King, though, not the Fisher Queen, so it's a guy thing - i.e., semen. The potency of the King determines the land's fertility, i.e. good crops, successful planting. It's a one-to-one correspondence in the myth. Diana


    From:  Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
    Reply-To:  "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
    To:  [log in to unmask]
    Subject:  Re: The Stetson Passage in TWL
    Date:  Fri, 8 Jun 2007 13:49:52 -0400
    I do not understand this thread at all.  A corpse is a corpse.  It is
    not semen (unless male sexual material is all dead, in which case there
    would be no reason to wonder about sprouting.).  It is not seed.  (Why
    would Eliot use so ominous an image as "corpse" if it only meant the
    benign notion of a seed?  A corpse is, by definition, dead; a seed is
    not.)  It may well be a dead god, but there is no reason at all to make
    it just anything that can be put in the ground.  Given that Stetson is a
    soldier and given that at least one way to read TWL has been through
    Weston (Cleanth Brooks suggested the dead god image in 1939 and, since
    it can be connected with death by water, etc., it has been reiterated),
    the corpse works as part of the WWI images and/or the Grail legend.  It
    could also be murder of a more common sort--Eliot read and was
    apparently very interested in crime stories in the news and put such a
    story in "Sweeney Agonistes."  But what purpose is served by making it
    anything at all one might stick in the ground and cover up?

    The word "plant," by the way, has many meanings, not just planting
    crops.  It may mean planting an idea in someone's mind or setting up a
    colony or placing someone for observing or simply "to hide by burying"
    (American Heritage Dictionary).  I do not understand what there is in
    the context of the poem to suggest any speculation beyond the latter
    meaning or the oddly deliberate choice of a corpse.  In fact, its oddity
    here seems to me to make it quite specifically what it is.  Why else
    have a chance acquaintance who planted a corpse?

    >>> Kate Troy <[log in to unmask]> 06/08/07 12:52 PM >>>
    There was an ancient custom of burying a corpse to bring good luck for
    the next year's crops and this seems likely because of the mention of an
    early frost.  It could also be a reference to a garden (and world) that
    is wasting away, where in the future nothing will grow, so it doesn't
    really matter what is planted, seeds or dead bodies.  It could also be a
    reference to reincarnation.



    -----Original Message-----
    From: cr mittal <[log in to unmask]>
    To: [log in to unmask]
    Sent: Fri, 8 Jun 2007 9:32 am
    Subject: Re: The Stetson Passage in TWL

    That's breaking fresh ground -- in a wasteland --

    for the sterile planting of a corpse in a garden.

    The metaphysical conceit here does hold its own

    even as the sperm does not !  No wonder, the

    sterility sprouts all through TWL.


    Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

    The word "planted" needs to be accounted for.

    One doesn't normally plant a corpse, least of all with the

    expectation of its sprouting.

    The more I think about the passage, the more I wonder

    if there isn't a metaphysical conceit here. If planted is

    taken as a sexual reference, the sperm being planted in

    a woman (garden), then to juxtapose the embryo with a

    corpse is a very stricking effect, and could be seen

    as reflecting the sterility that sprouts all through TWL.


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