To me Eliot's poetry is replete with 'objective correlatives', i.e. with concrete images that signify much more than their literal meaning, to convey certain deep and abstract ideas/emotions, more or less a synonym for symbols/metaphors. Here are a few instances from the 'Love Song':

a patient etherized upon a table; / The yellow fog / the butt-ends of my days and ways/ a pair of ragged claws / the mermaids / the chambers of the sea / sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown 

My problem arose when, at this list, I was stopped in my tracks, reprimanded for an indiscriminate use of 'objective correlative' for Eliot's images, reminding me what exactly Eliot meant by it:

"the only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an 'objective correlative'; in other words a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked." 

I brought up this topic for discussion because I believe that Eliot's notion of 'objective correlative' is much more comprehensive and all-inclusive, that it does not preclude the common usage that we associate with an 'objective correlative'. 

I presume that Eliot's aforementioned enunciation was made specifically in the context of Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'.


From: Rickard Parker <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 5:45 PM
Subject: Re: Objective Correlative in Eliot's Poetry (was Re: OT - Chapel Perilous)

Yes. Please give us an example of what you think is an example of an O.C.
that Eliot may not have intended.

On Wed, 2 May 2012 16:10:04 -0400, Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]>

>Interesting. What then is your notion of it?
>On May 2, 2012, at 3:30 PM, Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Also, may we not use the term 'objective correlative' with regard to
Eliot's poetry
>> without being bound by Eliot's specific notion of it?
>> IMHO, we may.
>> CR
>> From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>;
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>;
>> Subject: Re: OT - Chapel Perilous
>> Sent: Wed, May 2, 2012 7:02:48 PM
>> An interesting remark, Peter. It prompts me to raise a query.
>> In deciphering Eliot's poetry, are we bound by Eliot's notion of
'objective correlative'?
>> IMHO, a reader is free to view Eliot's poetry in the light of what we
generally mean by
>> objective correlative rather than be guided solely by Eliot's criterion
of it.
>> Regards,
>>  CR
>> From: Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Sent: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 2:45 AM
>> Subject: Re: OT - Chapel Perilous
>> Sounds to me like we're creeping closer and closer to the objective
>> Cheers,
>> Peter
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Rickard Parker" <[log in to unmask]>
>> > Why, for all of us, out of all that we have heard, seen, felt, in a
>> > lifetime, do certain images recur, charged with emotion, rather than
>> > The song of one bird, the leap of one fish, at a particular place and time,
>> > the scent of one flower, an old woman on a German mountain path, six
>> > ruffians seen through an open window playing cards at night at a small
>> > French railway junction where there was a water-mill: such memories may
>> > symbolic value, but of what we cannot tell, for they come to represent the
>> > depths of feeling into which we cannot peer. We might just as well ask why,
>> > when we try to recall visually some period in the past, we find in our
>> > memory just the few meagre arbitrarily chosen set of snapshots that we do
>> > find there, the faded poor souvenirs of passionate moments.
>> >                                                          TSE