Barnwell, many thanks for an illuminating post. However, with all the hands involved in the production of the folios, how can you be sure Shakespeare intended his capital G or the lack therof? It seems unlikely that he had a "subtle intent" in capitalizing God, since the plays were produced for the stage, not for reading. Diana

From: Barnwell Black <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: The boat imagery in TWL
Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2007 19:17:32 EDT

     I think there is an indication that King Lear does indeed achieve some degree of spiritual rebirth after the death of the Self, as per TSE in his post-conversion poetry.  In Shakespeare's play this comes in Act V, Scene 3, when Lear, and Cordelia enter as prisoners.  Lear, in what seems to me to be a moment of lucidity occasioned by the redeeming love of Cordelia, says to Cordelia:
No, no, no, no! Come, let's away to prison:
We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage:

When thou dost ask me blessing I'll kneel down
And ask of thee forgiveness: so we'll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news; and we'll talk with them too,--
Who loses and who wins; who's in, who's out;--
And take upon's the mystery of things,
As if we were God's spies: and we'll wear out,
In a wall'd prison, packs and sects of great ones
That ebb and flow by the moon.
To me this is the "still point" moment for Lear. Cordelia is the catalyst. I find it interesting that, in a play set in the time of pre-Christian (pagan, polytheistic) England, the "gods" (pleural) are referred to twenty-five times by Lear and others with lower case "g".  In Lear's passage above, this is the only use in the entire play of the singular word God,  "As if we were God's spies..."  -- with upper case "G" too. I suspect Shakespeare did this with subtle intent. Lear, in the dark night of his soul opened his soul for God to enter. In spite of the final tragedy, this moment flashes with redeeming power.
In a message dated 7/31/2007 8:25:27 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, [log in to unmask] writes:
I agree that it is a death of ego.  But I hasten to add that I do not
myself have any desire for a dead ego in this sense, and I don't think
Eliot ever experienced it or claimed to.

I would question Lear--more  like the dark night of sense than of
spirit, since Lear is a very intensely present self, not an opened soul
for god to enter.

>>> Barnwell  Black <[log in to unmask]> 07/31/07 8:11 PM >>>

    Re the comparison of the T. S. Eliot of TWL with the
post-conversion TSE
of 4Q,  I think CR and  Nancy are "right on," to  borrow a phrase from
youth. The post-conversion concept of "the death of the  Self" seems to
me to
represent the death of the "Ego," a necessary  happening before
rebirth, as per TSE -- a movement away from  the "We live as if by our
own wisdom" of
Heraclitus toward the common Logos.  Another example in literature of
"the death of the Self, or Ego" is the  soliloquy of KING Lear to the

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have  drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!
You sulphurous and  thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving  thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking  thunder,
Smite flat the thick rotundity o' the  world!
Crack nature's moulds, an germens spill at  once,
That make ingrateful man!

Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain!
Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters:
I  tax not you, you elements, with unkindness;
I never gave you  kingdom, call'd you children,
You owe me no subscription:  then let fall
Your horrible pleasure: here I stand, your  slave,
A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man:
But yet I call you servile ministers,
That have with  two pernicious daughters join'd
Your high engender'd battles  'gainst a head
So old and white as this. O! O! 'tis  foul!

Now that's that I call "the Dark Night of the Soul."


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