Thanks, Ken. I appreciate the comments. Let me clarify.
I wasn't trying to say that Eliot's biography leads me to the meaning of the poetry lines. I believe the lines portray the cycle of life as an individual person would experience existence. To an individual, "birth" would refer to one's own existence while "reproduction" would refer to the existence of an offspring. While birth and reproduction are redundant if viewed from the frame of reference of a whole population, these are not redundant concepts from the viewpoint of an _individual_.
When I look at the Sweeney epigraph from
-- Tom --
> Date: Tue, 7 Jul 2009 15:37:54 -0400
> From: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Birth, and copulation, and death
> To: [log in to unmask]
> I think you're committing the biographical fallacy. Always looking first
> to Eliot's life for what the poem means and not to the internal life of the
> poem pretty much negates the poem.
> >Sweeney's articulation of the progression is "Birth, and copulation, and
> death", not "Birth, and reproduction, >and death", and I think the reader
> is supposed to think about that.
> Not to belabor it too much, but "birth" and "reproduction" in the same
> series would seem somewhat redundant.
> >I keep coming back to Eliot's Dante essay where he says, "the love of man
> >and woman (or for that matter of man and man) is only explained and made
> >reasonable by the higher love, or else is simply the coupling of animals."
> >Again, no talk of reproduction, just copulation.
> Again, the coupling of animals implies reproduction. He is trying to say
> we are more than animals and (in Fragment) that when we think that's all
> there is, we are reducing ourselves to a state unnatural for human beings.
> Ken A