First, I unfortunately lost the earlier message from Tom on Gerontion. I agree with Tom about the parallels in this passage, and in fact I wrote about it in the essay in my book with Cassandra Laity. Both depict experience then associated with "neuresthenia," and that was Eliot's diagnosis in 1921 when he went to Vittoz. But many poems in IMH also have them.
Second, I agree with Carroll about the poem's resistance to being tamed and organized. I once called it Eliot's Hamlet--if one accepts the notion of lacking an objective correlative. Ironically, Hamlet does have it.
>>> Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]
> 4/5/2009 1:02 PM >>>
Tom Colket wrote:
> I know that several critics feel that the hyacinth garden scene in TWL
> is central to the poem, and I also hold to that view. In looking again
> at Gerontion, I think the central importance of the hyacinth garden
> scene may have been emphasized by certain echoes from Gerontion.
The idea that some passage (any passage) in the poem is "central" grates
harshly against my sense of all that makes TWL TWL. The "center" (if
there is one, which I doubt) has to lie in the complex relations among
the parts, not in any one passage, theme, image, etc. In fact I would
say that it is the poem's very lack of a center that has made it such a
fascination for readers and critics over the last 87 years. Despite all
evidence to the contrary, the damn poem hangs together in one's reading,
and this creates a perpetual itch to somehow find a way that it can hang
together in some systematic way.
As I've suggested before, the same itch seemed to affect Eliot, except
that since he was 'responsible' for it, the itch took the form of
anxiety -- and that anxiety took the form first of the provisional title
of early efforts (doing the police inv arious voices), then in wanting
to put the poem in some brain (e.g., that of Gerontion's dry thoughts in
a dry season), then in the notes (Tiresias and the Grail wild-goose
chase). But the poem just keeps chugging along, throwing off all such
efforts to tame or housebreak it.