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Diana,
   
  You ask:
  If in one passage of the poem water is a metaphor for lust, 
  and later he prays for water, for what is he praying? 
  I can see Eliot believing that lust is destructive of the spiritual life,
  but why would he yearn for it later? 
   
  My answer: Water is both destructive and regenerative -- as a metaphor
  for lust, it is foul and destructive -- and as a metaphor for emotional and
  spiritual life, it is clear and regenerative.
   
  The narrator in TWL yearns for the clear, regenerative (life-giving)
  water of spirituality and love.
   
  You'll find a hint of this dual aspect of water in the following 
  elaboration of Eliot's Notes at 
  http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poem/790.html :
     
  307] V. St. Augustine's Confessions:
"to Carthage then I came, where a cauldron of 
unholy loves sang all about mine ears." [Eliot's note] 
St. Augustine, in his autobiography, writes of his falling-away as a 
  student from God into "a land of want" (III.10), specifically in Carthage.
  The passage that Eliot quotes continues as follows: "I was not yet in 
  love, but I was in love with love ... //I defiled the very source of
  friendship by the filth of concupiscence, and its clear waters 
  I befouled with the lust of hell ....//
   
  Regards,
   
  CR

  

Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
      Dear CR: If in one passage of the poem water is a metaphor for lust, and later he prays for water, for what is he praying? Water's referent is so ambiguous as to be impossible to discern with any certainty, and I see this as a flaw in the poem. If Phlebas refers at least partly to Eliot's dear friend Jean Verdenal than the drowned sailor represents a force that is destructive of  emotional satisfaction. I can see Eliot believing that lust is destructive of the spiritual life, but why would he yearn for it later? Or is the poem asserting that a certain quantity of water is destructive, but a little bit is good? Then we want to know just how much is too much; that would seem to be the whole point. Drips and drops are salvation but the sea is death? But Eliot generally the sea as restorative. You see the problem. Diana
  
    
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From:  Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:  "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
To:  [log in to unmask]
Subject:  Re: Water in TWL
Date:  Tue, 31 Jul 2007 10:53:50 -0700
  

  Diana, 
   
     Here's a justification of Kate Troy's comment, "Isn't it  simply 
     'irony' that she predicts death by water in the midst of a drought."  
     In TWL "drought" is an objective correlative of the springs of love 
     (and consequently of life) gone dry.   
     And "water" is an objective correlative of either love or lust
     -- depending upon how pure or impure the metaphoric water is -- 
  
     "Sweet Thames" or the river that sweats "Oil and tar".
     Incidentally, "the waters of Leman" is a phrase associated with
     the fires of lust", Leman also meaning one who is loved illicitly, 
     especially a mistress. (Manju Jain, TS Eliot's Selected Poems,
     OUP, 1998)   
   
     In the wasteland context then, Kate's statement implies : 
     Madame Sosostris predicts death by water -- a death by 
     the waters of lust as evident in 'The Fire Sermon'. 
  
     She predicts such a death in the midst of a "drought", 
     i.e. in the midst of an emotional and spiritual drought 
     when the wellsprings of love have gone dry ("And voices 
     singing out of empty cisterns and exhausted wells").   
   
     Cheers! 
   
     CR
      
   

       
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