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Thanks for your patience Jerry! I too don't read "Us he devours" as a  
punctum, but as a durative or iterative action. I apologize for  
messing up the tense name. The hosing I got for that on this list will  
insure I never forget what ypu have taught me!

Diana

Sent from my iPod

On Mar 11, 2010, at 12:23 PM, Jerome Walsh <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> That's how I would understand it.  As a non-specialist, I hesitate  
> to comment on Eliot, but I could not not read "Us he devours" as  
> having some quality of generalization, either as a continuing  
> process (durative) or a repeated one (iterative).  For a single,  
> punctual action I would expect "Us he is devouring."  That being  
> said, I recognize that poetry can stretch the constraints of prose  
> grammar, but prose grammar is where I would begin my attempts to  
> understand.  (I guess I'm just hopelessly prosaic.  I have only  
> rarely managed to commit an act of poetry.)
>
> Jerry
>
> From: Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Thu, March 11, 2010 10:51:16 AM
> Subject: Re: "Us he devours" was ....Re: 'Gerontion' -- Grammatical  
> Accuracy
>
> Jerry, one more question:
>
> "He eats ham" is durative or iterative, right? He eats ham on  
> Easter, He eats ham since he stopped keeping kosher, etc.
>
> But you would not say "He eats ham right now" would you? You would  
> say "He is eating ham now."
>
> So......
>
> "He devours us" is durative or iterative, and "He is devouring us"  
> is present. Is that right?
>
> Diana
>
> Date: Thu, 11 Mar 2010 08:21:49 -0800
> From: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: "Us he devours" was ....Re: 'Gerontion' -- Grammatical  
> Accuracy
> To: [log in to unmask]
>
> Yes, Diana.  "I am drinking" is progressive present tense.  "I  
> drink" is simple present.  "I do drink" is emphatic present.  Each  
> of them can be used in contexts that modify the temporal parameters  
> of the action.  "I drink coffee from morning to night" (continuous,  
> durative action).  "I drink a cup of coffee every morning when I get  
> up" (puntual, repeated action).  But for punctual, non-repeated  
> action in the present, the progressive present ("I am drinking a cup  
> of coffee right now").  For simultaneous action, the progressive  
> past ("I was drinking a cup of coffee when you called") can be  
> replaced (Runyon-style) by the progressive present ("Guess who  
> arrives while I am drinking a cup of coffee!").  I have no doubt  
> there are other, even more nuanced uses of the various tenses beyond  
> those I've exemplified.
>
> Jerry Walsh
>
> From: Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Thu, March 11, 2010 9:46:10 AM
> Subject: Re: "Us he devours" was ....Re: 'Gerontion' -- Grammatical  
> Accuracy
>
> Peter I'll allow that I'm confused about simple present tense. In  
> the sentence "I am drinking a glass of water right now" is it  
> progressive present because of the participle "drinking"? Even  
> though the action does not continue?
>
> Diana
>
>
>
> Sent from my iPod
>
> On Mar 11, 2010, at 7:23 AM, Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>  
> wrote:
>
> > In a sense the inversion isolates US. He doesn't devour anything  
> else, just
> > US.
> >
> > P.
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Carrol Cox" <[log in to unmask]>
> > To: <[log in to unmask]>
> > Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 2010 8:23 AM
> > Subject: "Us he devours" was ....Re: 'Gerontion' -- Grammatical  
> Accuracy
> >
> >
> >> (Ignoring all Diana's comments on this.)
> >>
> >> The present tense in English (as in most languages) has a number of
> >> different uses, and identifying the use in a particular case  
> offers or
> >> can offer interpretive problems, especially when, as here, there  
> is a
> >> deliberate departure from normal English word order of
> >> subject-verbv-object. Obmect-subject-verb wold be perfectly  
> normal and
> >> non-ambiguous in Latin, That English has an objective  
> (accusative) case
> >> in pronouns (though not in nouns) makes the Latin word order  
> possible
> >> here, and the use of non-English word order is surely the most  
> strikig
> >> feature of the phrase. US he devours -- ie., not "them." But  
> since the
> >> antecedent of "he" is itself an interpretive crux it's hard to know
> >> where to_begin_ om cconstruing the phrase, that is, which is the
> >> dependent, which the independent variable here. Le's leave the  
> puzzle
> >> regarding "he" aside for a moment and focus on the word order and  
> the
> >> verb. "Devours" here has an iterative feel: He is in the practice  
> of
> >> devouring, not just anyoen, but _us_ (emphasized by word order).  
> The
> >> iterative feel and the emphasis on us (rather than someone else)
> >> suggests something like an regularly repaeated action, annual in  
> this
> >> case.
> >>
> >> I don't know where to take it from here, except to note that here  
> we
> >> have the kind of ambguity Empson was concerned with --  
> ambiguities that
> >> _function_ significanty in the text, not ambiguties 5that are  
> pulled out
> >> of the air for the fun of it by someone who just thinks ambiguity
> >> regardless of purpose is groovy. Weighing the various  
> alternatives is
> >> clearly part of theaction that counts in this poem: not the  
> action mimed
> >> by the poem (there is none) but the action of reading. Like so many
> >> romantic and modernist poems, the poem is about the act of  
> reading (we
> >> are back to cunning passages).
> >>
> >> *Carrol
> >
>
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