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Obviously I point out the agon in the poem because conflict is  
inherently dramatic.

Diana

Sent from my iPod

On Feb 22, 2010, at 7:51 AM, Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]>  
wrote:

> Dear Nancy,
>
> The noun "Gerontion" I read as a  synonym for "growing old" -- the  
> title describes the theme. So being changed is the action --  
> although the speaker is passive, he does not remain the same. As you  
> say this is far from classical drama. The agon is between the  
> speaker and time that changes him and brings death, but he also  
> suffers from disgust with himself, an internal agon. I'm reminded of  
> a line in a William Carlos Williams poem: "I have pissed my life."
>
> This is not a big insight; the conflicts are not difficult to  
> identify. But it's necessary to note them.
>
> Best,
>
> Diana
>
> Sent from my iPod
>
> On Feb 21, 2010, at 6:07 PM, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>> Dear Diana,
>>
>> I agree with everything here, but none of it comprises "a classical  
>> dramatic arc."  That is the point I have tried to make. I also do  
>> not think time is an antagonist if the speaker never struggles  
>> against it as, for example, Prufrock tries to in the first  
>> section.  Gerontion just sits, and he seems never to have done  
>> otherwise.  The sheer fact of time and its impact is so constant in  
>> all Eliot that it can easily be pointed to as the source of despair  
>> and loss.  But that is not, in itself, a dramatic event.  Otherwise  
>> there would be no way to distinguish the dramatic from any lyric- 
>> voice poem about time.  Think of all those Elizabethan sonnets  
>> bemoaning time's destruction.  Are they, then, all classical drama?
>> Cheers,
>> Nancy
>>
>> >>> Diana Manister 02/21/10 5:58 PM >>>
>> Dear Nancy,
>>
>> Dear Nancy,
>>
>> The passage of time decays the house, brings darkness, death, and  
>> so on, as you are well aware. Time's tenses are a prominent feature  
>> of the poem's language: simple past, conditional future ("to be  
>> eaten"), ongoing present ("she gives when" implies "she always  
>> gives when").
>>
>> Time twists through the poem in many convolutions. Every image in  
>> some way reflects time's effects.
>>
>> I'm not sure there that conflict doesn't drive the lines  
>> implicitly. Eliot himself said an emotion can exert pressure on a  
>> poem from underneath, without being made explicit.
>>
>> The tiger is not time; it's the escape from time, don't you think?  
>> Sometimes when I read the line it seems the speaker is looking to  
>> the tiger for release, that being devoured by the tiger would be  
>> welcome.
>>
>> It's very rich in implications, as Eliot's work always is. I don't  
>> see it as lacking an agon.
>>
>> Diana
>>
>> Date: Sun, 21 Feb 2010 17:36:22 -0500
>> From: [log in to unmask]
>> Subject: Re: 'Gerontion'
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>
>> Yes, it is full of passive voice.  And that is passivity. He does  
>> nothing. I do not see time as a force here against which he  
>> struggles.  My point is that drama requires a protagonist and  
>> antagonist--whether inner or outer.  If one is passive and never  
>> struggles, there is no drama in any traditional sense.  There is  
>> futility.  How do you see a connection between the passive voice  
>> and some active principle of time?  Time does not act; it is.  But  
>> even if history is a series of actions, Gerontion did not struggle,  
>> by his own claim--whatever "we" may or may not do.
>>
>> Eliot was not very old when he wrote all those poems about being  
>> old and empty--like Prufrock and the old man in "Dans le  
>> Restaurant," and many of them in IMH.  Interestingly, there is  
>> intense drama in Sweeney Agonistes.  And in a different way in  
>> "Portrait of a Lady."  Even, internally, in "Prufrock," who, like  
>> Hamlet, questions and imagines alternatives and is anguished about  
>> what to do  (even if he is not Hamlet in any sense of importance),  
>> in the first section.  After the middle lines, the tense is past,  
>> and he ceases to think in terms of change.
>> Nancy
>> >>> Diana Manister 02/21/10 5:21 PM >>>
>> Dear Nancy,
>>
>>
>>
>> The poem is rife with passive voice. The gerontological allusions  
>> enlarge the passivity to the scale of a lifetime,
>>
>> and its end. History is a function of time, so time is the active  
>> principle in the poem, against which we struggle in futility.
>>
>>
>>
>> Some of the poem's passive phrases follow:
>>
>>
>>
>> Being read to, waiting, My house is a decayed house, Swaddled with  
>> darkness,
>>
>> To be eaten, to be divided, to be drunk,
>>
>> The tiger springs in the new year. Us he devours.
>>
>> And an old man driven by the Trades To a sleepy corner.
>>
>> History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors
>>
>> And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions,
>>
>> Guides us by vanities
>>
>> She gives when our attention is distracted
>>
>>
>>
>> Eliot was not an old man when he wrote the poem, which lends a rich  
>> ambiguity to his meanings.
>>
>>
>>
>> Diana
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> Date: Sun, 21 Feb 2010 12:57:26 -0500
>> From: [log in to unmask]
>> Subject: Re: 'Gerontion'
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>
>>
>>
>> Dear Diana,
>>
>> It is clearly a lack of willed action, but what specific acting  
>> upon?  Unless one means the appearance of Christ the tiger, I'm not  
>> sure what he claims acted on him--history perhaps, but then he only  
>> obsesses over its confusions; he shows no sign of having tried to  
>> affect it.
>> Cheers,
>> Nancy
>>
>> >>> Diana Manister 02/21/10 12:44 PM >>>
>> Dear Nancy,
>>
>> Gerontion is acted upon, wouldn't you say? The poem describes not  
>> an absence of action, but rather a lack of willed action.
>>
>> Diana
>>
>> Sent from my iPod
>>
>> On Feb 21, 2010, at 11:11 AM, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>
>> I already said that.  There is no such arc in "Gerontion."
>>
>> >>> Peter Montgomery 02/21/10 5:11 AM >>>
>> If there is conflict, then there is drama, whether it be internal  
>> or external or both.
>>
>> P.
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: Nancy Gish
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Sent: Friday, February 19, 2010 9:27 PM
>> Subject: Re: 'Gerontion' -- the dramatic arc
>>
>> I do not understand how this can be a "classical dramatic  
>> structure" when it states the opposite.  That structure is a  
>> description of  an action: it refers to plot. And the central point  
>> Gerontion describes is precisely that he has not acted.  He was not  
>> at the hot gates; he is old and simply waiting. He says "we have  
>> not reached conclusion" [i.e., no climax or denoument]. He speaks  
>> only of endless "small deliberations"--thoughts of a dry brain in a  
>> dry season."  Classical drama is about acting and its  
>> consequences.  There is no action depicted in the lines you quote.
>>
>> When Eliot turned to drama--even in the early Sweeney Agonistes--he  
>> showed actions.  I do not see the point of what you call an  
>> observation that cannot apply in this case.
>> Nancy
>>
>> >>> Chokh Raj 02/19/10 11:05 PM >>>
>> 'Gerontion' - the dramatic arc
>>
>> -----
>>
>> Here I am, an old man in a dry month,    [line 1]
>>
>> I an old man, / A dull head among windy spaces    [lines 15-16]
>>
>> I have no ghosts / An old man in a draughty house / Under a windy  
>> knob.   [lines 30-32]
>>
>> And an old man driven by the Trades / To a sleepy corner.    [lines  
>> 72-73]
>>
>> -----
>>
>> To me the monologue moves along the lines of a classical dramatic  
>> structure -- with an Exposition, a Rising Action, a Climax, and a  
>> Resolution.
>>
>> just an observation
>>
>> CR
>>
>>
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