"Poem as poem" is even more vague and impossible to limit than "underpin." And there is not one "proper" way to read a poem: it would be a dull occupation if there were. So reiterating New Critical claims that have now become only slogans, as if they were unquestioned truths, is not a convincing position from which to present a reading. Clearly not all readings can be justified, but there is not a one, true, way, nor is there a "proper focus." It was long believed that Jesse Weston gave us the template for TWL: that simply does not hold up, and even Eliot rejected it later. Her images, even, are really only apparent in section V. It took years of study and critical work to move beyond that single "proper" focus, but that does not mean it was ever accurate.

I disagree with the critics you cite most of the time because they are always there to sustain your own notion of a "proper" focus. I disagree with many critics and agree with many others. I decide on the basis of their effectiveness in presenting a case, not on a predetermined answer they either find or do not. By all means question my readings as much as you like. Just read them first and have some reasons if you want a discussion. And my readings have shifted over time as I have read new work and new material by and about Eliot not available when I wrote my first book--which you might find surprisingly conventional at this point. 

My line about Pound was ironic--it was an "if/then" statement. Pound admired TWL for what was there and was retained, not for the whole he first read and edited. He chopped whole sections and made sarcastic or challenging commentary on many parts of the original. So that admiration was for the final form on which he had so much influence--as in "il miglior fabbro."

>>> Ken Armstrong 11/12/11 3:08 PM >>>

On 11/12/2011 10:36 AM, Nancy Gish wrote: Well, Eliot said it was the state of his mind--or words to that effect. He said it more than once. If we dismiss his testimony 

I didn't dismiss his testimony. Why say I did? His state of mind -- his suffering at that time -- was material out of which he created TWL. All I'm saying (besides that "underpin" is too vague to have much of a dispute over)is that the process of creation, which CR quoted, the "intensity of the artistic process" creating "a significant new art emotion," is the proper focus of the poem. Saying so does not exclude looking to "his state of mind" in one's reading of the poem -- in some measure it necessitates it -- but it does focus better what a constructive reading of the poem will be organized upon.

(as one of those literary critics who do not know what is the true way to read?),

I guess we should keep an open mind? Let's face it, you think an awful lot of literary critics, or at least every one I ever bring up, is wrong. Right? Surely you don't think there is anything wrong, then, with your own "way of reading" being questioned or proclaimed wanting? It is what you do to others every time you dismiss them for one reason or another. 

we may be left with a poem largely "underpinned" rather that simply edited by Ezra Pound

Really, the chances for that seem to be less than slim and not more than none, Pound's envious groan of admiration for the finished poem being just an initial solid indicator. Not to mention, finally, "Whatever you do, read him."

Ken A

>>> Ken Armstrong 11/12/11 8:45 AM >>>
Granting that "underpin" is not a very exact word here, the "state of mind" in which the pearl of the poem is produced is not the process that produces the poem. What's central to the poem as poem is that process.

Ken A

On 11/12/2011 7:51 AM, Rickard A. Parker wrote: On Fri, 11 Nov 2011 09:30:57 -0600, Carrol Cox  wrote:

What underpins TWL?
The poet's nervous breakdown reflecting the nervous breakdown of Europe into
the Insanity of 1914.
Eliot, in a private paper, written in his sixties, confessed: "I came to
persuade myself that I was in love with Vivienne simply because I wanted to
burn my boats and commit myself to staying in England. And she persuaded
herself (also under the influence of Pound) that she would save the poet by
keeping him in England. To her, the marriage brought no happiness. To me, it
brought the state of mind out of which came The Waste Land."