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!
> 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 > > > > ---------------------------------------------------------------------- > > Hotmail: Free, trusted and rich email service. Get it now.
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