And, on the other hand, 1920 is not only 8 or 9 years later, it's after his move to England, the death of Verdenal, his marriage, and the War. The whole world was changed and so was he. He worked on "Prufrock" when he was at Harvard and in France long before all those changes in his life, and the use of Christian imagery does not entail any of these assumptions about his own views at the time. Any writer in a Western Christian-based culture had them as potential images, and of course they were all part of his personal knowledge--along with massive reading in Eastern thought and personal doubt and angst of all kinds.
Reading back from his later experience ignores all that and really explains nothing that can be demonstrated. It is much more revealing to study the letters and poems he was writing at the time; unfortunately, I do not have any of my Eliot books here to be specific.
>>> Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]
> 4/6/2009 7:44 AM >>>
At 04:54 AM 4/6/2009, Nancy Gish wrote:
>When Eliot wrote "Prufrock" (it was a name on a sign in St. Louis), he was
>not a Christian, nor was he then wishing to be a Jesuit; by his own
>account he considered being a Buddhist. He wrote it in 1911-12, long
>before his conversion.
On the other hand, Poems 1920 clearly show his attention centered Christ
and Christianity, and the fact that he had not yet formally converted to
the Anglican communion does not dispel at all the direction in which he was
heading. One comment made aside does not counterindicate anything. And
there certainly are rocks everywhere in his poetry, the lead stone of
Burbank being as telling as any.
> >>> Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]
> 4/5/2009 9:50 PM >>>
>2. I also wonder if there is any connection between the "red rock" in TWL
>and the "blue rocks" in Ash-Wednesday where the protagonist undergoes his
The red rock is the church. As Guy Brown showed in Burbank, these lines
-- Princess Volupine extends/
A meagre, blue-nailed, phthisic hand -- play off of both the spiritual
and the sensual, but lead ultimately to the waterstair.
The impetus and direction of the poetry are not all that difficult to discern.