London Bridge is falling down falling down
Poi s’ascose nel foco che gli affina
Quando fiam ceu chelidon—O swallow swallow
Le Prince d’Aquitaine à la tour abolie
These fragments I have shored against my ruins
Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo’s mad againe.
Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.
Shantih shantih shantih
While the civilization is
crumbling, the poet has "saved" some fragments from
his "ruins" from which he seeks light for a lasting
Yes, this is only
'one' interpretation of the closing lines but, to me,
the most valid so far.
I hold fast to
Cleanth Brooks' interpretation of the closing llines
(quoted above) and oppose it to yours which chooses
to look only at the negative aspect of things
-- "violence, chaos and murder" -- closing eyes to what
positive might emerge out of them, so as to make what
Yeats aptly called "a vineyard of the curse".
Here's the relevant
excerpt from Brooks:
of quotations with which the poem ends has a very
definite relation to the general theme of the poem and
to several of the major symbols used in the poem. Before
Arnaut leaps back into the refining fire of Purgatory
with joy he says: "I am Arnaut who weep and go singing;
contrite I see my past folly, and joyful I see before me
the day I hope for. Now I pray you by that virtue which
guides you to the summit of the stair, at times be
mindful of my pain." This theme is carried forward by
the quotation from Pervigilium
Veneris: "When shall I be like the swallow." The
allusion is also connected with the Philomela symbol.
(Eliot's note on the passage indicates this clearly.)
The sister of Philomela was changed into a swallow as
Philomela was changed into a nightingale. The
protagonist is asking therefore when shall the spring,
the time of love, return, but also when will he be
reborn out of his sufferings, and--with the special
meaning which the symbol takes on from the preceding
Dante quotation and from the earlier contexts already
discussed--he is asking what is asked at the end of one
of the minor poems: "When will Time flow away."
The quotation from
"El Desdichado," as Edmund Wilson has pointed out,
indicates that the protagonist of the poem has been
disinherited, robbed of his tradition. The ruined tower
is perhaps also the Perilous Chapel, "only the wind's
home," and it is also the whole tradition in decay. The
protagonist resolves to claim his tradition and
The quotation from The Spanish Tragedy--"Why then
Ile fit you. Hieronymo's mad againe"--is perhaps the
most puzzling of all these quotations. It means, I
believe, this: The protagonist's acceptance of what is
in reality the deepest truth will seem to the present
world mere madness. ("And still she cried . . . 'Jug
jug' to dirty ears.") Hieronymo in the play, like
Hamlet, was "mad" for a purpose. The protagonist is
conscious of the interpretation which will be placed on
the words which follow--words which will seem to many
apparently meaningless babble, but which contain the
oldest and most permanent truth of the race:
Quotation of the
whole context from which the line is taken confirms this
interpretation. Hieronymo, asked to write a play for the
court's entertainment, replies:
Why then, I'll fit
you; say no more.
When I was young, I gave my mind
And plied myself to fruitless poetry;
Which though it profit the professor naught
Yet it is passing pleasing to the world.
He sees that the
play will give him the opportunity he has been seeking
to avenge his son's murder. Like Hieronymo, the
protagonist in the poem has found his theme; what he is
about to perform is not "fruitless."
repetition of what the thunder said comes the
Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
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Friday, September 9, 2011 7:41 PM
Re: 'The Waste Land' - a recitation (was Re: vis-a-vis
That is an
(not "the") interpretation of "Shantih." But the
lines above that are about violence, chaos, and
murder. Moreover, Cleo Kearnes has pointed out that
the full ending of the Upanishad starts with "Om,"
and Eliot omits it (though we know he studied
So you are free to interpret one line as shaping
all the rest, but that interpretation is not "what
the lines say": it is one reading of very mixed
>>> Chokh Raj 09/09/11 7:20 PM >>>
apropos TWL's ending
Peter Montgomery wrote: "They end it with a very positive
tone, but then that's what the lines say."
A valuable observation, Peter. Thanks.
Peter Montgommery <[log in to unmask]>
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Friday, September 9, 2011 2:07 AM
Re: vis-a-vis 'Four Quartets'
Interesting to see that presentation again.
They end it with a very positive
tone, but then that's what the lines say.