In an earlier exchange, I suggested that Eliot's use of "son of man" in TWL line 20 reminded me much more of Ezek 37:3-4 than of Ezek 2:1, despite Eliot's note on the line.  In my pretty near total ignorance of the Eliot corpus (I'm a lurker, remember!), I was unaware that he quotes Ezek 37:3-4 almost verbatim in Ash Wednesday (the Hebrew word ruach can be translated "spirit" or "wind") and alludes to it pretty blatantly in the passage of TWL Chokh Raj quoted below ("at my back in a cold blast I hear / The rattle of the bones...").  See Ezek 37:7: " I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone" [NRSV].

Thanks for the citations, Chokh.

Jerry Walsh

From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Wed, March 10, 2010 6:04:50 PM
Subject: Re: ending of 'Gerontion" (was Eliot's Readership)

Thanks for both your observations, Rick. One comes by such insights but rarely.

In reading 'Gerontion', though, one needs to work out, vis-a-vis the human situation, the implications of the gull flying against the wind, or flying with the wind -- with utter annihilation awaiting the gull in either case -- as well as the implications of this spectacle driving Gerontion to a sleepy corner. One would wonder what the wind represents. There are numerous references to it:

"I an old man, / A dull head among windy spaces."

"Vacant shuttles / Weave the wind."

"An old man in a draughty house / Under a windy knob."

Maybe, read in the following context, the wind discloses its character:

"What will the spider do,
Suspend its operations, will the weevil 
Delay? De Bailhache, Fresca, Mrs. Cammel, whirled 
Beyond the circuit of the shuddering Bear 
In fractured atoms. Gull against the wind, in the windy straits 
Of Belle Isle, or running on the Horn,
White feathers in the snow, the Gulf claims, 
And an old man driven by the Trades 
To a sleepy corner."

Incidentally, this wind is different in nature from the one that has a prophetic character in TWL & Ash-Wednesday:

"The wind / Crosses the brown land, unheard." [The Waste Land]

"And God said / Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only / The wind will listen. And the bones sang chirping / With the burden of the grasshopper, saying..." [Ash-Wednesday]

To me, the wind in 'Gerontion' seems more like "But at my back *in a cold blast* I hear / The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear." [The Waste Land]

Interestingly, in his poetry Eliot distinguishes between fire & fire, wind & wind, water & water. The dichotomy seems central to his perception of things.

Thanks for getting me athinking.


--- On Wed, 3/10/10, Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Good stuff, Rickard.
> Rickard A. Parker wrote:
> > *Running* is a sailing term (remember Eliot was a
> sailor) that means
> > sailing with the wind blowing from the stern to the
> bow. I thus read
> > the passage somewhat as follows:
> >    Gull [flying] against the wind, in the
> windy straits
> >    of Belle Isle, or [the gull flying with
> the wind] [on/at] the Horn,
> >
> > Also note the Damyata section of TWL where there is a
> bit of ambiguity
> > with the word *beating*.  "Beating heart" is
> somewhat obvious but
> > *beating* is another sailing term (and Eliot writes of
> a boat,
> > responding, and controlling hands.) Beating is sailing
> against the
> > wind where, with proper control of the boat, the
> sailor zig-zags
> > at angles to the wind to progress againt it.
> >