Dear Rick,

This lines are spoken by Ugolino in Canto xxxiii, cited by Eliot in  
TWL notes: "When I hear the door of the horrible tower locking." The  
locking signals that no food will be brought to Ugolino and the boys,  
who are starved to death.

Not a happy way for Eliot to describe his work on London! Technically  
though, Virgil and Dante have not yet entered the first circle. They  
are at the gates. But as I think Carrol noted, souls there never get  

The Dante allusion in Burial of the Dead then would seem to compare  
London Bridge to the gates of hell, although it employs another quote  
from the Vestibule canto.

Who are those crossing the bridge? Residents of this area in the  
Inferno are the uncommited, who think only of themselves. That would  
not be the war dead.


Sent from my iPod

On Mar 15, 2010, at 8:25 PM, "Rickard A. Parker"  
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>> Since Eliot refers to those crossing London Bridge with the Dante  
>> quote
>> about death having undone so many, do you think the implication is  
>> that
>> London is a contemporaneous version of hell? The speaker's subject
>> position is the same as Dante's after he and Virgil pass under the  
>> gateway
>> to hell, as you note.
> Here is the ending of T.S. Eliot's "London Letter" dated May, 1921
> and published in The Dial magazine June, 1921.  Note how he uses Dante
> to comment on his work in the city.
> As the prosperity of London has increased, the City Churches have  
> fallen
> into desuetude; for their destruction the lack of congregation is the
> ecclesiastical excuse and the need of money the ecclesiastical reason.
> The fact that the erection of these churches was apparently paid for  
> out
> of a public coal tax and their decoration probably by the  
> parishioners,
> does not seem to invalidate the right of the True Church to bring them
> to the ground. To one who, like the present writer, passes his days in
> this City of London (quand'io sentii chiavar l'uscio di sotto) the  
> loss
> of these towers, to meet the eye down a grimy lane, and of these empty
> naves, to receive the solitary visitor at noon from the dust and  
> tumult
> of Lombard Street, will be irreparable and unforgotten. A small  
> pamphlet
> issued for the London County Council (Proposed Demolition of Nineteen
> City Churches: P. S. King & Son, Ltd., 2-4 Gt. Smith Street,
> Westminster, S.W.1, 3s.6d. net) should be enough to persuade of what I
> have said.