As I remember it, gas street lamps were quite noisey,
sputtering and muttering.
 
One might consider that the street lamp is symbolic.
One might also consider that the environment or ground
says more about the figure than does the figure itself.
 
The street lamp shows certain details to be perceived.
The details chosen speak of Eliot's interest in Bawdylaire.
The lamp says nothing about those details. They speak for themselves.
 
P.
----- 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: Friday, July 20, 2007 5:15 AM
Subject: Re: Good essay, relax and enjoy

The street-lamp said, 'Regard that woman
Who hesitates toward you in the light of the door
Which opens on her like a grin.
You see the border of her dress
Is torn and stained with sand,
And you see the corner of her eye
Twists like a crooked pin.'

This is a verbose street-lamp! I never realized how it skirts the ridiculous until I saw it isolated in your message. It also, deliberately or not, illustrates the constructivist belief that perceptions are determined by the psychological state of the subject. The same street-lamp would no doubt be heard to say quite different things to another perceiver. Diana


From:  "Rickard A. Parker" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:  "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
To:  [log in to unmask]
Subject:  Good essay, relax and enjoy
Date:  Thu, 19 Jul 2007 15:57:18 -0400
Method and Meaning in the Poetry of T.S. Eliot
    http://indagabo.orcon.net.nz/lit/eliot.html

Excerpt:

Take, for example, this section from Rhapsody on a Windy Night :

Half-past one,
The street-lamp sputtered,
The street-lamp muttered,
The street-lamp said, 'Regard that woman
Who hesitates toward you in the light of the door
Which opens on her like a grin.
You see the border of her dress
Is torn and stained with sand,
And you see the corner of her eye
Twists like a crooked pin.'

(Eliot, Collected)

In just the first three lines, he achieves effects surpassing the attempts of
the authors of epics. First, an image. A flickering street lamp at half past
one. This carries with it a suitcase full of associations: the uncertain
exhaustion of the hours after midnight, the emptiness of a sleeping city, the
eerieness of a solitary and sporadic light before dawn. On top of that, he
creates a hypnotic rhythm, reinforced by the repetition of the noun, the
rhyming verbs, the recurring "t" sound.
What the street lamp "mutters" is another sharp scene. A woman "hesitates
toward you." Here is Eliot making English answer his will. "Hesitates" is an
intransitive verb, an unusual and suggestive one. The idea of a person being
hesitated at makes perfect intuitive sense, though, dissected semantically, it
makes none at all. And then the door "opens on her like a grin", a
juxtaposition so strange that it can't quite be translated, and so evocative
that it causes goosebumps, nonetheless. The woman's dress is "stained with
sand" which is not a fluid, and her eye is "twisted like a crooked pin". Both
of these would be hard to interpret on a literal level, but by relaxing to the
impressions of grime, of crookedness and sharpness, the reader feels the
intended alien shudder.

This is a remarkable achievement for a few lines of what is considered a minor
piece, but it is not the only trick Eliot has up his sleeve.


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