Dear Peter,
Seeing mystical experience as the dominant theme of Eliot's work fails to note that struggle with all the elements of human life is the actual subject of the plays and poems. A "mystical" focus is a kind of tunnel vision that distorts his meaning, or better, a magnifying lens directed on only one element in his work. He was modern enough to know that lust for example is not wholly negative, but some other element in his makeup made its expression difficult, and his speakers reflect that.
He's not John of the Cross or Augustine. Neither of them would have written the Bolo verses for example.

Date: Wed, 31 Mar 2010 23:22:02 -0800
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Eliot on Charles Williams' mysticism
To: [log in to unmask]

What is secret about asserting there is a metaphysical dimension to Eliot's poetry?
Obviously in any serious subject there are more sophisticated concepts that may
take a more practiced, developed, and knowledgeable mind to deal with.
There has been a lot of criticism of Eliot's poetry for being too complex, to inaccessible.
Was Eliot wrong to deal with his subjects in a way that
might be too difficult for a Grade 7 student to access?
Life has more inaccessible dimensions than are
dealt with in our philosphies. Is the poet not to deal with them?
The disconnect here is very strange. You are certainly seeing some element to
this discussion that eludes me.
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">Nancy Gish
To: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 5:33 AM
Subject: Re: Eliot on Charles Williams' mysticism

Personally, I would cherish an end to presumptions of knowledge that can simply deny, without any demonstration, the ability of anyone to read Eliot except those with some apparent secret.  This has nothing to do with understanding poetry, Eliot, criticism, or even a "metaphysical perspective." 
It is only an assertion of private certainty that insults everyone on the list who disagrees.  Why then even discuss?

>>> Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> 03/31/10 7:34 AM >>>
Thanks, Ken, for making a classic statement on the metaphysical perspective of Eliot's poetry. It stands up to any scrutiny. This is the post that, at last, justifies the list. I'll cherish it -- now & evermore.


--- On Tue, 3/30/10, Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Eliot did say in an interview with a French newspaper that between his pre- and post-conversion poetry there was no essential change in point of view. Eric Thompson, to whom I've often referred on the list, wrote one book on Eliot, and that on Eliot's metaphysical perspective; the point being that he had a metaphysical perspective from the time his first mature poetry (Prufrock and so forth) appeared to the end. Is this boring? I have no idea why it would be. It does not preclude experimentation, exploration, peripeteia, or any dynamic thing you can think of.

It's not up for a vote.There's no security in numbers. What matters is what it is. Either that's the prize or there is no prize. Scholarly views change like ripples in a pond. The place the rock hits the water is unchanging.

The poetry is in the poem. For those who didn't see it 1923 or 1937 or 1963 or 1998, there's no reason to suppose it'll be visible in 2014. The mass of knowledge that has accreted around Eliot does not make the poetry.


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