CR and Diana,
       I thank both of you for your comments and insights. One thing for sure, TSE's poetry has extraordinary depth and power beyond words.
In a message dated 7/29/2007 1:27:01 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, [log in to unmask] writes:
Thanks for your thought-provoking comments, Barnwell.
To me, Ophelia too is swayed by the "waters" of passion
-- and her death by drowning reveals the destructive aspect
of "water" (her passion). The allusion to her at the end of
"A Game of Chess" helps to place the tragedy of Lil and the
lady (with her nerves) in a historical perspective. "Water"
(passion/love) has proved fatal in all these cases.
Then, there is the daily "death" of the Thames daughters -- the water
(the passion) which should be life-giving is vitiated -- it has become
Well, that's how I read it.
As for reading Heraclitian flux in the image of Thames, yes, a sense
of the flux of history and time is certainly evident in the image of
"the turning tide" -- "The nymphs are departed" -- "The river bears
no...testimony of summer nights" -- "Southwest wind / Carried down
stream / The peal of bells / White towers / Weialala leia...", as also
in the image of "A current under sea...the whirlpool".

Barnwell, thanks for the pertinent comments on Eliot's use of water. However, I think as a symbol in TWL it does not point clearly to any interpretation. I'll have to go back to the mss version to see if some transitions were deleted that might make it more clear.

One can extrapolate many interpretations from the juxtaposition of water as a cause of fear and death, something that dissolves the body of the sailor, and the later symbolizing of water as life-bringer, but I do not see sufficient evidence in the poem for anything but speculation. Diana


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