I'm grateful for this information, Barnwell, and your elucidation of a
life-giving death as "the death of the Self followed by spiritual rebirth
as per St. John of The Cross and Krishna".
I'm sure many readers would be equally interested in the pre-conversion
Eliot as revealed by Lyndall Gordon in "Eliot's Early Years":
The turning point in Eliot's life came not at the time of his baptism in
1927, but in 1914 when he was circling, in moments of agitation, on the
edge of conversion. This supposition is based on a group of intense
religious poems Eliot never published. He wrote four of these poems
before he left Harvard, 'After the turning...', 'I am the Resurrection...',
'So through the evening...', and 'The Burnt Dancer' (dated June 1914).
'The Love Song of Saint Sebastian' was written in Germany in July 1914
and 'The Death of Saint Narcissus' at the end of 1914 or beginning of
1915, after Eliot's move to England. In the new cluster, a bold convert,
a passionate martyr or saint displaces the frustrated philosopher of the
1910-12 poems... There is a monastic impulse to isolate himself from
the crowd, to take off to mountain or desert in search of initiation
and purification. *
[* 'The Burnt Dancer' and 'The Love Song of Saint Sebastian' have
since been published in 'Inventions of the March Hare', and 'The
Death of Saint Narcissus' in 'The Complete Poems and Plays of
Barnwell Black <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
For an excellent and very moving discussion of T. S. Eliot's concept of "A life-giving death" -- the death of the Self followed by spiritual rebirth as per St. John of The Cross and Krishna-- and the other important wonderful components of the searchings of the "post conversion" Eliot, I recommend the book "Redeeming Time, T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets" by Kenneth Paul Kramer, Professor Emeritus of Comparative Religious Studies at San Jose State University. Eliot's ideas of "time and timelessness" are beautifully described and discussed by Professor Kramer. Although the primary subject
of "Redeeming Time" is the "Four Quartets," the discussion is applicable to many of T. S. Eliot's poems.
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