Dear CR: A convincing interpretation. Pure, restorative water or polluted water that brings disease -- both can be literal and symbolic, physical and spiritual. A bonus to be gained with this signification is the semantic shifting of the word as it appears differently modified and in different contexts. Like G. Stein's rose is a rose is a rose, Eliot's water is water is water. Thanks! Diana
CR wrote: Here's a reconsideration of the subject in the light of what
Tom Gray wrote (Thanks, Tom).The death by water in Part IV of the poem, indeed, does not bringabout any redemption or regeneration -- nor is there the sort oftransmutation hinted in "Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!"There is only a sense of passing into a state of oblivion:Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swellAnd the profit and loss.And, instead of any liberation from the cycle of births and deaths,(as a Buddha would view) there is only an "Entering the whirlpool".(cf. "and here the Wheel" -- "I see crowds of people, walkinground in a ring.")As such, Part IV implies -- and that seems to be its raison d'etre --that "water" in the waste land has ceased to be regenerative -- it isonly destructive.Significantly, there are images of the pollution of water -- a pollutionthat could be literal as well as metaphoric. It is this pollution thatcauses the waters to be destructive.The river sweatsOil and tarThere's "the dull canal" against the image of a rat"Dragging its slimy belly on the bank".One may, therefore, infer that the yearning for water in Part V ofTWL is a yearning for the pure, clear, life-giving waters which mayredeem the land, and its people, of their state of sterility -- bothphysical and spiritual. One can imagine a different death by waterin an altered scenario than this fearful, destructive death. Or, atleast, that's how it would be seen by someone who is not like the"one-eyed merchant" or like Madame Sosostris, or the wastelanderin Part II for whom "Those are pearls that were his eyes" is nomore than a "Shakespeherian Rag".CR
Tom Gray <[log in to unmask]> wrote:Considering the death of Phlebas and a a possible
The poem describes him as:
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep seas swell
And the profit and loss.
A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.
I don't see any redemption here. Far from redemption I
see oblivion. Far from finding redemption for his past
life, his past life has come to nothing.
In answer to the general question about the
relationship of this image of Phlebas to a general use
of water as an image, this image is very specific.
Death by water is a life in which every thing is lost
and nothing is gained. It is somthing to be greatly
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