Returning to the theme of war in TWL, has anyone mentioned Pound's expressions of disgust about WWI in his 1920 poem "Hugh Selwyn Mauberly?"
These fought, in any case,
and some believing, pro domo, in any case ..
Some quick to arm,
some for adventure,
some from fear of weakness,
some from fear of censure,
some for love of slaughter, in imagination,
learning later ...
some in fear, learning love of slaughter;
Died some pro patria, non dulce non et decor" ..
walked eye-deep in hell
believing in old men's lies, then unbelieving
came home, home to a lie,
home to many deceits,
home to old lies and new infamy;
usury age-old and age-thick
and liars in public places.
Daring as never before, wastage as never before.
Young blood and high blood,
Fair cheeks, and fine bodies;
fortitude as never before
frankness as never before,
disillusions as never told in the old days,
hysterias, trench confessions,
laughter out of dead bellies.
There died a myriad,
And of the best, among them,
For an old bitch gone in the teeth,
For a botched civilization."
"Dulce et Decorum Est" by Wilfrid Owen, written in 1917 during the war, and published posthumously in 1920 also used the phrase from Horace's ode ironically. The complete line in Horace, used by supporters of the war to inspire patriotism, reads "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori," "It is sweet and right to die for the homeland."
In "Mauberly" dying "pro patria" is neither sweet nor right. The poem also expresses a TWL-esque view of civilization generally.
I'm not sure whether the politics of Eliot and Pound differed very much in 1920. My sense is that they were similar in outlook at that point and diverged later (at least nominally.)
Eliot's 1935 poem "Rannoch, by Glencoe" about a famous Scotland massacre, is a meditation on war and violence, and indicates that he was still emotionally affected by the immense waste of young life in the trenches, as if young men like the deer hunted at Rannoch, were born and raised to die:
"here the patient stag
Breeds for the rifle."
Date: Fri, 17 Apr 2009 06:48:50 -0400
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Frequency of Dante references on this list. [was Interview with Robert Harrison ....]
To: [log in to unmask]
In a letter around the time of the War (I am in Scotland and do not have my books here, so I cannot quote), Eliot described himself as a liberal.
The Nation was a leftist magazine, and Eliot chose to send an anti-war letter in from a soldier--probably Maurice Haigh-Wood. He also praise Keynes's book on the Economic Consequences of the War. It suggests that Eliot's views were in a kind of flux, and his extreme conservatism a later development. Clearly it was complicated at that time.
>>> Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]
> 4/17/2009 7:25 AM >>>
From: Nancy Gish
On the line you quote, it clearly draws on Dante, as all the notes of all
scholars have noted for decades, but it also evokes the dead of the War and
Eliot's own reactions to it--as is so intense in the material Rickard sent.
And it is also a response to the London life of his own experience. These
are also not my own new notes, just what has been pointed to by others, but
the letter to the Nation is fascinating.
Interesting. In what way is it fascinating?
When I first visited London in the late 60s, having finished an MA on TWL,
material for my doctorate at the British Meuseum, I visited the places
referenced in TWL.
I was very surprised (naively so perhaps) to discover the Royal Stock
(of course no longer being used in the late 60s) right at the centre of the
All the streets radiate from it. It was the magnate of the economy of the
British Empire, very
much a symbol of the deadening economic forces that it housed. I have always
a bit, why Eliot didn't use such a potent symbol of the syndrome he was
Maybe he did and I just missed it.
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