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Now, now, Carrol, you are selecting parts of what I said to get mad at. 

 

I said "It's a start" which is what you say, to wit:

 

"One _starts_, get it, STARTS, with as small and limited context
> as possible, THEN, one expands that context _as necessary)."

 

I'm eager to see what influences exist, if any, for Eliot's "gull against the wind" lines, which I, like you, find very moving. I'm thinking Milton, since as I said Paradise Lost is full of flying and wings in connection with salvation and damnation, which fits the theme of Gerontion.

 

I wish I had time to explore possible inspirations for the lines. Maybe someone on the list can come up with something specific.

 

I never suggested you were against recognizing Eliot's influences, and I never would!

 

Diana



 
> Date: Mon, 8 Mar 2010 10:54:47 -0600
> From: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Eliot's Readership & the Poems
> To: [log in to unmask]
> 
> Diana Manister wrote:
> > 
> > Carrol,
> > 
> > Interpreting a poetic image without reference to texts known to its
> > author is limited.
> 
> Diana, you are right on the edge of going into my kill file for being a
> person who either can't read or won't read what is in front of them. It
> is real stupidiy or deliberate misreading to suggest that I'm "against"
> recognizing the texts the authr has read. But he read several thousand
> texts, and to begin with one cannot take for granted any particular one
> of them. > 
> This sort of deliberate misreading is pissing in the gravy bowl. And I'm
> not going to join in a banquet (of discourse) in which someone is
> pissing in the gravy bowl.
> 
> Carrol
> 
> It's a start, but why ignore some likely influences
> > on the lines which may serve as a call to which Eliot responds?
> > 
> > Diana
> > 
> > Diana
> > 
> > > "Rickard A. Parker" wrote:
> > > >
> > > > Sorry, I only have time to repost a section of what I wrote a few
> > > > days ago. I'm not sure if you missed it or are asking others for
> > > > their input as well.
> > > >
> > > > ... Gull against the wind, in the windy straits
> > > > Of Belle Isle, or running on the Horn,
> > > > White feathers in the snow, the Gulf claims,
> > >
> > > Something that I noted while struggling with my Word copyu of the
> > poem
> > > yesterday -- the literal level is important here. And I can only
> > > remember that literal level abstractly, not directly experience it.
> > The
> > > quoted passage begins in the middle of a line, and then runs far
> > beyond
> > > the right end of the lines below it. I don't know whether Eliot
> > composed
> > > on a typewriter, but the final copy would be typed and final
> > revisions
> > > would be made on a typed copy, so this difference in line length is
> > part
> > > of the poem. And it ties the poem to its existence in print, though
> > how
> > > important that literal level is I do not know. Should any paraphase
> > of
> > > the historical level take that literal level into consideration?
> > Once
> > > one takes the literal level seriously, a difficulty arises as to
> > where
> > > to draw the line between responsible and profligate interpretation.
> > > "White feathers in the snow" is set off by commas immediately after
> > > "windy straits," so I presume it refers only to running the straits,
> > not
> > > to the Gull against the wind." Or if it does refer to the latter,
> > that
> > > is by an interpretive act of the reader, applying it to the two
> > > preceding lines and not merely to the immediately preceding phrase.
> > (I
> > > can't remember now the first name of the author or the exact title,
> > but
> > > Kettle's book on the typewriter is obviusly of great importance to
> > > understanding literature of the last two centuries. It casts
> > > retrospective light on the half-century or so prior to its
> > introduction.
> > > When Eliot produced his early poems the typewriter would still have
> > been
> > > an innovation -- as computers were until the latee '90s.)
> > >
> > > If we are to see those white feathers as scattered about and not
> > merely
> > > the glul's feathers shwoing through the falling snow, then Rick's
> > > importation of death into the passage gains some traction. But also,
> > I
> > > had never noted until wrestling last night with the decision of how
> > much
> > > to quote that "the gulf claims" (with a comma at the end) is a real
> > > crux. The gulf claims WHAT? We have an active verb (which is also a
> > > personification of the gulf) with no direct object nor anyof the
> > usual
> > > signals of a deliberately elided direct object. Is this discussed in
> > the
> > > critical literature on the poem? The three lines quoted make up a
> > whole
> > > syntactical unit in the poem, so the object of "claims" is not to be
> > > found inadjacent text. If Rick is correct, then there is an implied
> > > construction something like "the gulf claims [itsown]," that is, the
> > > gulf as death claims its own. Were this an Elizabehan poem
> > (considering
> > > the sloppy printing habits of the time) textual critics could argue
> > over
> > > whether "gulf" sould be "gull," and at least some would invent
> > pretty
> > > clever defenses of reading "gull" rather than gulf.
> > >
> > >
> > > > Whether you fight against your life
> > > > or go with its flow
> > > > your body fails; death is its home.
> > > > [Belle Isle is located in the northern-most of
> > > > the straits where the Gulf of Saint Lawrence
> > > > empties into the Atlantic.]
> > >
> > > The gull hangs there, above the rush of the confined waters of the
> > gulf
> > > rush into the Atlantic. The emptying of rivers, gulfs, etc into the
> > > largger ocean is a figure traditionally (though not always)
> > associated
> > > with death (the lapse into eternity). Still, I'm not wholly
> > convinced
> > > that Rick is correct.It's a given that life is completed by death,
> > but
> > > not every image or action in a poem directly (or even inndirectly)
> > calls
> > > up that fact. Have I carried commentary as far as it can go without
> > > broadening the context, or is there more of interest to say on just
> > this
> > > sentence?
> > >
> > > Carrol
> > >
> > >
> > > >
> > > > Regards,
> > > > Rick Parker
> > 
> > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
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