"Looking into the heart of light, the silence."
The 'silence' at the "heart of light" in the hyacinth garden looks backward to the mystical vision of void in the 1910-poem 'Slence',
'"Silence" is not a conversion poem, but the terrifying peace is a felt experience rather than an abstract value or rational truth. In her biography of Eliot, Lyndall Gordon gives the poem particular weight in the development of Eliot's spiritual life. She argues that Eliot was at first not conscious of the religious implications of the silence, only that it was opposed to the world of ordinary sense experience: "The revelation in the spring of 1910, at the age of twenty-one, had no immediate repurcussions but remained the defining experience of his life."' 
Forward, by proxy, to Gerontion's admission, 
I would meet you upon this honestly.  
I that was near your heart was removed therefrom         
To lose beauty in terror 
and culminating in the vision and resolution of 'East Coker': 

O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark,
The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant,
The captains, merchant bankers, eminent men of letters,
The generous patrons of art, the statesmen and the rulers,
Distinguished civil servants, chairmen of many committees,
Industrial lords and petty contractors, all go into the dark,
And dark the Sun and Moon, and the Almanach de Gotha
And the Stock Exchange Gazette, the Directory of Directors,
And cold the sense and lost the motive of action.
And we all go with them, into the silent funeral,
Nobody's funeral, for there is no one to bury.
I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness,
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing facade are all being rolled away—
Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations
And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence
And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen
Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about;
Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing—
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing. 

--- On Fri, 4/8/11, Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> wrote:  

//Those lines do have a wondrously spiritual intensity.// 

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Chokh Raj 
To: [log in to unmask] 
Sent: Thursday, March 31, 2011 5:25 PM
Subject: Implications of the original Hyacinth myth in TWL [was Re: of religious poets]

Implications of the original Hyacinth myth in TWL: a recapitulation
According to classical interpretations, the myth of Hyacinth is "a classical metaphor of the death and rebirth of nature".  (Wikipedia)
The hyacinth passage underscores the failure of the myth to operate in TWL. Hence the elegiac note. 
'You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;   
'They called me the hyacinth girl.'   
—Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,   
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not   
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither   
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing, 
//Looking into the heart of light, the silence.// 

--- On Thu, 3/31/11, Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote: 

Hence the haunting, tragic, elegiac note that pervades the Hyacinth passage in TWL? 
--- On Thu, 3/31/11, Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote:  

The failure of the myth of Hyacinth -- as I read it -- to operate in the wasteland? 

--- On Thu, 3/31/11, Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> wrote:  

What was Eliot implying/suggesting in terms of the original myth?

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Chokh Raj 
To: [log in to unmask] 
Sent: Thursday, March 24, 2011 7:42 PM
Subject: Re: of religious poets

I'm sorry, I must have been out of my mind. So let me hasten to correct myself.
The beloved in the hyacinth passage was, admittedly, called "the Hyacinth girl" because the lover had given her hyacinths "first a year ago" -- not because the lover considered himself Hyacinth, as I had wrongly surmised. 
All the same, offering that particular flower does carry connotations of his specific expectations of her -- to be a lover of the sun, and to experience a certain 'death' that results in a certain type of 'life'.
This, in my reading, corresponds with the lover's exhortation to his beloved in the opening passage of 'La Figlia' to weave the sunlight in her hair etc.

--- On Wed, 3/23/11, Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote: 

The Hyacinth girl in TWL
IMHO, the lover in the hyacinth passage considered himself Hyacinth -- the lover of Apollo from whom he learnt his arts, and through his death became //emblematic of resurrection in nature// -- and chose to call his beloved "the Hyacinth girl".
This refers me back to La Figlia where the lover exhorts his beloved to weave the sunlight in her hair:
"Stand on the highest pavement of the stair—  
 Lean on a garden urn—  
 Weave, weave the sunlight in your hair—  
 Clasp your flowers to you with a pained surprise—  
 Fling them to the ground and turn   
 With a fugitive resentment in your eyes:  
 But weave, weave the sunlight in your hair." 
Quite plausibly, in the Four Quartets, Eliot gives himself the name of Burnt Norton as one who is burnt by the fires of Apollo. [ref."to be consumed by fire or fire].
Incidentally, in TWL, "the sun beats" in vain.
In the Hyacinth passage and in 'Burnt Norton', there is the association of "sunlight" with the poet's encounter with his beloved: 
"the heart of light" 
"And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight" 
excerpts from wikipedia: 
Hyacinth ... is a divine hero from Greek mythology. His cult at Amyclae, southwest of Sparta, where his tumulus was located— in classical times at the feet of Apollo's statue in the sanctuary that had been built round the burial mound— dates from the Mycenaean era.[1] The literary myths serve to link him to local cults, and to identify him with Apollo. 
In the literary myth, Hyacinth was a beautiful boy and lover of the god Apollo ... [of his radiant archery]...
Hyacinth is the tutelary deity of one of the principal Spartan festivals, the Hyacinthia, held every summer. The festival lasted three days, one day of mourning for the death of the divine hero Hyacinth, and the last two celebrating his rebirth as Apollo Hayakinthios, though the division of honours is a subject for scholarly controversy.[7] 
According to classical interpretations, his myth, where Apollo is a Dorian god, is a classical metaphor of the death and rebirth of nature, much as in the myth of Adonis.
[emphasis mine]

--- On Wed, 3/23/11, Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

#yiv137568155  .yiv137568155hmmessage P {
#yiv137568155  .yiv137568155hmmessage {

It is of course, of value to keep the  myth of hyacinth in mind.
Peter M.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Tom Colket 
To: [log in to unmask] 
Sent: Saturday, March 19, 2011 2:31 PM
Subject: Re: of religious poets

CR mentioned these TWL lines from "A Game of Chess":

"Speak to me. Why do you never speak. Speak.
 . . .   "Do
"You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember
    . . .
"Are you alive, or not? Is there nothing in your head?"

It's well understood that those lines refer back to the hyacinth passage ("I could not/Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither /Living nor dead, and I knew nothing").

CR referred to the religious significance of the lines. I thought it might be useful to post a 1988 article, "Eliot's The Waste Land", by P.K. Saha in which Saha makes a connection between the hyacinth lines and religious lines from Dante's Inferno and Paradiso. The whole article is short and I've included it in its entirety at the end of this email.

-- Tom --

Eliot's The Waste Land
P.K. Saha
Case Western Reserve University
Explicator, Vol 46, Number 3, (1988) P 31-32

I could not                                   38
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither      39
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,          40                     
Looking into the heart of light, the silence. 41

In the Waste Land , the lines quoted above follow the famous "hyacinth girl" lines, and the entire passage, framed as it is by the verses from Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, is clearly suggestive of the paralysis of love. After Eliot's death in 1965, many comments appeared in print, suggesting a homosexual interpretation of the hyacinth girl passage, specifically claiming that the hyacinth girl lines are a veiled reference to Eliot's affection for a young Frenchman, Jean Verdenal, who was killed in a navel battle in 1915. (In 1917 Eliot dedicated his first book of poems to the memory of Verdenal). Other critics have tried to refute this interpretation, and it seems to me that in the debate an important point has (to the best of my knowledge) been overlooked so far.

Lines 38-41 are a conflation of lines or images from the last cantos of Dante's Inferno and Paradiso. In his essay on Dante too, Eliot focused on these two cantos simultaneously by suggesting that the ending of Paradiso "repairs any failure" of the ending of Inferno. He also claimed that the last canto of Paradiso is "the highest point that poetry has ever reached". Some of the specific links between Eliot's and Dante's lines follow: 

"I was neither / Living nor dead" is the exact equivalent of "lo non mori, e non rimasi vivo" (Inferno, XXXIV, 25). The Italian line represents Dante's sense of fear and paralysis when he sees Lucifer, and this terrifying vision at the end of Inferno needs to be related to the luminous vision at the end of Paradiso: ". . . ficcar lo viso per la Luce eterna, /tanto che la veduta vi consunsi!" (Paradiso, XXXIII, 83-84). ("I fixed my gaze on the eternal light so deeply that my entire vision was consumed in it"). 

"I knew nothing, Looking into the heart of light" is the equivalent of Dante's vision being consumed in the eternal light, and the overall notion of suspended being in "I could not / Speak and my eyes failed" is the counterpart of "Cosi la mente mia tutta sospesa, / mirava fissa, immobile ed attenta . . . " (Paradiso XXXIII, 97-98) ["Thus with wholly suspended mind, I stared fixedly, motionless and intent .. ."] The notion of subdued speech and vision is also present in the same canto (lines 56 and 61-62). 

Paradiso ends with the famous last line: "Amor che move il sole e l'altre stelle" ["the love that moves the sun and the other stars"]. In the overall scheme of The Divine Comedy, the vision at the end of Inferno, representing the ultimate failure of love as personified by Lucifer, and the vision at the end of Paradiso, focusing on the redemptive power of love, jointly indicates the polarities of love and its transcendent potential.

By conflating Dante's concluding visions in the opening section of his own poem, Eliot may be suggesting that the hallmark of the modern waste land in indeed the paralysis of love. Whether the love is homosexual or heterosexual is not the crucial issue. The crucial point is that the images of the waste land that appear after lines 38-41 are a consequence of the breakdown of love in all its different meanings.

If lines 38-41 are viewed exclusively as a statement by a modern voice, they may remain bogged down in controversy involving Eliot's personal life. Seen as an allusive conflation of lines from The Divine Comedy, they take on a universal significance that enhances our understanding of The Waste Land.

Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2011 07:09:16 -0700
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: of religious poets
To: [log in to unmask]

It is here that the aesthetics of poetry has so subtly been wedded to the absolutes of 
a religious belief:   
       Mais alors, tu as ton vautour!         
Va t’en te décrotter les rides du visage;  
Tiens, ma fourchette, décrasse-toi le crâne.  
De quel droit payes-tu des expériences comme moi?  
Tiens, voilà dix sous, pour la salle-de-bains. 
       [But then, you have your vulture! 
Go and clean the ripples from your face;
Take my fork, and pick your head.
In which way will you pay back experiences like mine?
Take, here's ten sous, for the bathroom.] 
'What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?   
'I never know what you are thinking. Think.'  

I think we are in rats' alley 
Where the dead men lost their bones. 
'Do you see nothing?'  

'Are you alive, or not?'  
'Is there nothing in your head?' 
Ah, the cutting edge of the irony in the last lines!
Irony, not from the speaker's point of view, but from the listener's. 
For your kind reflection, dear lister. 

--- On Mon, 3/14/11, Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

It is here, as much as in Eliot's poetry published prior to this, that the 
aesthetics of poetry has so subtly been wedded to the absolutes of 
a religious belief. 

--- On Sun, 3/13/11, Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Which religious poets do you love?
Andrew Brown
1 June 2009,
"But so far as I am concerned the most powerful English religious poet started off as an American. There is something in the solemn and desolate music of The Waste Land which conveys to me //an idea of god by absence and by indirection//."
I wonder I didn't come upon it earlier.