I can see that it looks very unfair to Nancy Hale and Mary Trevalyn,
but it seems for once he knew where his happiness really lay and he
chose to go there. It would have been wrong for him to marry either
of them ifhe knew it wouldn't work for him. i can believe he should have
been more up front about it with Nancy Hale.
It is one thing to think you want to do something when you can't,
and quite another to continue wanting it when you actually can do it.
There is a radical change in prespective.
I find this need to judge him on the basis of hear say rather curious.
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">Diana Manister
To: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2007 6:27 AM
Subject: Re: Of "awful daring"

Brian, it seems to me that Eliot's leaving Nancy Hale in America, when she and all their acquaintances assumed they would marry, was a powerful source of guilt for him all of his life. This reads like a soap opera, but even a genius is tormented by relationships. It seems almost as if his treatment of Hale had a tinge of sadism to it, so cruelly was she tossed aside twice in favor of other women. Repenting his first marriage may have included regret over having chosen Viv over Nancy. In any event, he certainly was very aware of his ill-treatment of a woman who loved him all of her life. I think the hyacinth girl has a Nancy Hale component, and the woman in the following poem especially:

La Figlia Che Piange (The Weeping Girl)

"...So I would have had him leave, 
So I would have had her stand and grieve, 
So he would have left         10
As the soul leaves the body torn and bruised, 
As the mind deserts the body it has used. 
I should find 
Some way incomparably light and deft, 
Some way we both should understand,         15
Simple and faithless as a smile and shake of the hand. 
She turned away, but with the autumn weather 
Compelled my imagination many days, 
Many days and many hours: 
Her hair over her arms and her arms full of flowers.         20
And I wonder how they should have been together! 
I should have lost a gesture and a pose. 
Sometimes these cogitations still amaze 
The troubled midnight and the noon’s repose.  "

Hale had a breakdown and was hospitalized after one of Eliot's marriages, I forget which. After Vivienne's death, it seemed they would marry after all, but he again reneged saying "It's too late!" Mary Trevelyan in England asked him several times to marry her after Viv died, but he said he had an attachment to a woman in America, who could only have been Nancy Hale. They saw each other over the years, when Eliot was in America and when she came to England. She accompanied him on his visit to places mentioned in 4Qs, and I sometimes think the door not entered and the unseen laughing children refer at least partly to his not having married Hale and had a family.
The events may be public, but guilt is not written in our obituaries. Diana

From:  "O'Sullivan, Brian P" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:  "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
To:  [log in to unmask]
Subject:  Re: Of "awful daring"
Date:  Mon, 11 Jun 2007 16:48:23 -0400
I've always imagined that if the "daring moment" had a biographical referent, it was something less public and documentable than what we know of his marriage or conversion or change of national affiliation--something "not to be found in our obituaries."


Brian O'Sullivan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Englishh
Director of the Writing Center
Montgomery Hall 50
18952 E. Fisher Rd.
St. Mary's College of Maryland
St. Mary's City, Maryland


From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. on behalf of Kate Troy
Sent: Mon 6/11/2007 4:07 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Of "awful daring"

These lines may not have referred to his marriage.  Perhaps he meant leaving America and living his life as a British citizen.

-----Original Message-----
From: Nancy Gish
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Sun, 10 Jun 2007 1:29 pm
Subject: Re: Off "awful daring"

It need not be either approval or disapproval but simply fact.  It was
Eliot, after all, who said that it was better to do evil than to do
nothing because "at least we exist."  (Or it may be "at least we are
alive"--I just read it but it's not right here.)  In any case, daring
moments are not very present in any of the poetry, and when they are
possible, whoever is speaking tends to fail.

It was not much of a marriage for Viv either, and it was she whose life
never recovered.  He seems to have sustained guilt over that but not to
have acted on his guilt.

>>> cr mittal <[log in to unmask]> 06/10/07 1:12 PM >>>
Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
         The awful daring of a moment's surrender
   Which an age of prudence can never retract

   CR: I have always seen this as Eliot's way of saying "Marry in haste,
   repent at leisure." Not believing in divorce, his sudden to decision
   marry Viv left him one of their lifetimes in which to repent. Diana

   I don't think so, Diana. There's a note of approval, not disapproval,
   to the "awful daring of a moment's surrender" in

   The awful daring of a moment's surrender
   Which an age of prudence can never retract
   // By this, and this only, we have existed //



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