Sounds like we agree, Tom. The hazards of playing catch up caught up with me.
The distinction of secular is a modern insert into the discussion. In Dante's day the religious WAS the secular culture.
Of course Eliot read it as a religious poem. The absence of a modern religious context was part of Eliot's
agony, hence TWL..
The podcasts of this series by Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor
provide an enriched background to the discussion.
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">Tom Colket
To: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Tuesday, April 12, 2011 3:46 AM
Subject: Re: Allusions, Echoes, Borrowings, etc was of religious poets

Peter wrote (about TSE, Dante, and the Commedia):
P> The fact that he always seemed to have had a copy of
P> one of the three volumes on him for reading on the train
P> does suggest some interest.

I was not trying to show that TSE had some interest in Dante -- obviously, everyone on this list knows that he had a great deal of interest.

There was earlier list discussion about whether TSE regarded the Commedia as a secular poem. It seems clear to me that he regarded the Commedia as a religious poem, dealing with the true nature of reality (as TSE believed it to be). The Clark and Turnbull lectures, published as "The Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry", deal with this in depth, and I thought a few passages would be useful for the discussion. I apologize for posting long excerpts, but I like to show quotes in context to guard against posting a phrase or two that would appear to mean something that TSE didn't intend. From the excerpts, the parts that got my attention were:

"[The effort of Dante and his contemporaries] was to enlarge the boundary of human love so as to make it a stage in the progress towards the divine. . .[One of the reasons for the general inferiority, the general unsatisfactoriness, of the devotional verse of the last three hundred years has been] this _substitution_ of the divine passion by the human. Instead of being presented with a new passion, we find only the old one with a new, and slightly unreal object. The emotion is the same emotion watered down."


". . . this tincture of human emotions by philosophy which is essential to metaphysical poetry as I conceive it, may or may not be accompanied by _belief_ in that philosophy. In Dante we have the metaphysical development of feeling and also the cosmological belief. . . A philosophy which lays under cultivation only the more social emotions and virtues, and which leaves the more private emotions to flourish or languish as weeds, could at best provoke the mental stress and tension of some more tortured Laforgue, but could not produce the harmony of the philosophical, the religious and the personal emotion which we find in Dante."

-- Tom --