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Two footnotes

1.

"If Eliot dismantled Unitarian theology to his satisfaction, he left its ethic largely undisturbed. From the vast Vedantic literature, for instance, Eliot chose the fable of the thunder not because it was new and strange, but because it was familiar. Resembling the Sanskrit datta, or "give," the radical change produced by Unitarianism taught "self-denial" and "self-sacrifice," according to Rev. Eliot. "It requires us to live for others, not only by separate acts of kindness, but by going about to do good." ... Datta, Dayadhvam, Damyata ... restate key parts of the Unitarian code -- "give, sympathize, control" -- that Eliot grew up with. (Eric Sigg, "Eliot as a product of America" in 'The Cambridge Companion to T.S. Eliot') 

http://books.google.com/books?id=MyWjtOwCs1sC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

2.

Vis-a-vis TWL's lines from Dante, "I had not thought death had undone so many" etc., as with the poet's other borrowings, it is necessary to keep in mind what Eliot wrote in his Introduction to Ezra Pound: Selected Poems (1928) -- he cautions the readers "not to confuse the material (borrowed from other authors) and the use which the author makes of it". In his own poetry, Eliot makes a creative use of borrowed material to serve his own context. 

CR


From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Monday, May 28, 2012 11:26 AM
Subject: Re: The Waste Land as a War Poem (Was Re: Yeats, An Irish Airman . . .)

"illusion of being disillusioned" 

If we were disillusioned after the First World War, there would be no Second World War.
Human nature is what it is, only the cultivation of the three-foold principles -- of "to give", "to sympathise", "to control" -- to govern our conduct can pave the way for a lasting peace. 

It is apropos that Buddha's Fire Sermon forms the title of the climactic section of The Waste Land.
In his Sermon, Tathagata (the Buddha) asks his disciple, "O Bhikshu, the whole world is burning ... With what fire is it burning?" And then the Master himself replies, "It is burning with the fire of lust ... of greed ..." 

The passage on history from 'Gerontion' underscores the vanity of false ambition and lust for power. 

CR


From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Monday, May 28, 2012 9:35 AM
Subject: Re: The Waste Land as a War Poem (Was Re: Yeats, An Irish Airman . . .)

Also, 

I wonder if 'Gerontion' has sufficiently, if at all, been taken into account as an expression of Eliot's deep anguish and concern vis-a-vis World War I. In the very opening lines, Gerontion's seething regret at his inability to fight a war seems to be the poet's own. 

"I was neither at the hot gates
Nor fought in the warm rain
Nor knee deep in the salt marsh, heaving a cutlass,         
Bitten by flies, fought."
"My house [read Europe] is a decayed house".

                                     "Think now
History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors
And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions,       
Guides us by vanities. Think now
She gives when our attention is distracted
And what she gives, gives with such supple confusions
That the giving famishes the craving. Gives too late
What’s not believed in, or if still believed,          
In memory only, reconsidered passion. Gives too soon
Into weak hands, what’s thought can be dispensed with
Till the refusal propagates a fear. Think
Neither fear nor courage saves us. Unnatural vices
Are fathered by our heroism. Virtues          
Are forced upon us by our impudent crimes.
These tears are shaken from the wrath-bearing tree." 


And even though I quoted lines profusely from The Waste Land that may be taken into account vis-a-vis the War, I would focus on the  following passages: 


Unreal City,  60
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,  
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,  
I had not thought death had undone so many.  
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,  
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.  65
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,  
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours  
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.  
There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying “Stetson!  
You who were with me in the ships at Mylae!  70
That corpse you planted last year in your garden,  
Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?  
Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?  
Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men,  
Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again!

---

"fear in a handful of dust":

                         "The hot water at ten. 135
And if it rains, a closed car at four.  
And we shall play a game of chess,  
Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door" 

---

By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept…  
Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song,  
Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long.  
But at my back in a cold blast I hear 185
The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear.

---

Datta: what have we given?  
My friend, blood shaking my heart  
The awful daring of a moment’s surrender  
Which an age of prudence can never retract  
By this, and this only, we have existed 405
Which is not to be found in our obituaries  
Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider  
Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor  
In our empty rooms

---

Dayadhvam: I have heard the key  
Turn in the door once and turn once only  
We think of the key, each in his prison  
Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison  
Only at nightfall, aetherial rumours 415
Revive for a moment a broken Coriolanus

---

One can read back resonances here of Auden's poem on Yeats on the eve of the Second World War: 

"And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his freedom"

          In the nightmare of the dark
          All the dogs of Europe bark,
          And the living nations wait,
          Each sequestered in its hate;

          Intellectual disgrace
          Stares from every human face,
          And the seas of pity lie
          Locked and frozen in each eye.

          Follow, poet, follow right
          To the bottom of the night,
          With your unconstraining voice
          Still persuade us to rejoice;

          With the farming of a verse
          Make a vineyard of the curse,
          Sing of human unsuccess
          In a rapture of distress;

          In the deserts of the heart
          Let the healing fountain start,
          In the prison of his days
          Teach the free man how to praise. 

---

CR



From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Sunday, May 27, 2012 8:33 PM
Subject: Re: The Waste Land as a War Poem (Was Re: Yeats, An Irish Airman . . .)

Interestingly,

In Parenthesis | First World War Poetry Digital Archive 

excerpt:

In 1928 David Jones began In Parenthesis (see fragments of the first draft), which has its climax at Mametz Wood during the Battle of the Somme. He worked on it for nearly ten years, and was helped into publication by T.S. Eliot who hailed it as a work of genius. In Parenthesis is a 187 page poem of seven parts. On one level it is an unsentimental, closely-observed story of the fortunes of Private John Ball (David Jones) and his companions from December 1915 to July 1916. Ball and his unit cross to France, move up and occupy trenches. Ball does sentry duty and takes part in the dawn stand-to preparing to defend against a German attack, and finally participates in the Battle of the Somme, where he is wounded in the climactic battle scene. On another level it features frequent, sometimes baffling, allusions to the remote past intended to connect the experiences of modern trench warfare with those of earlier wars, drawing, for example on literary influences from the Welsh epic poem Y Gododdin and Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur to Shakespeare's Henry V. While reading the poem, there is a further complex religious context which might be obscure to many of today's readers. 

It was published in 1937 and won the 1938 Hawthornden prize. In his note to the introduction (1961) T.S. Eliot praised the poem's modernist flourishes and called In Parenthesis 'a work of literary art which uses the language in a new way... Here is a book about the experiences of one soldier in the War of 1914-18. It is also a book about War'. 

http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit/collections/jones/inparenthesis.html

CR 


From: David Boyd <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Friday, May 25, 2012 1:50 PM
Subject: Re: The Waste Land as a War Poem (Was Re: Yeats, An Irish Airman . . .)

 Re Dresden, the attached I think says it all.
 
Over recent years, I've been most-heartened by the 'Wiederaufbau' of the Frauenkirche - it was just a heap of rubble when I first came across it, but, meticulously rebuilt, it's a truly uplifting monument. So poignant too, that the gold cross that tops the dome was donated from Coventry, England and that the father of the craftsman who fashioned it had been a bomb-aimer on those terrible raids.
 
I get into trouble, still, in UK, by asserting that the bombing of Dresden was a war crime, that couldn't morally be justified in itself, whatever the circumstances. Churchill, to his credit, seems to have felt the same, albeit after the event.
 
My own father was in charge of keeping Lancaster bombers flying from various English air bases; he would have vehemently disagreed with me, about Dresden, but, that was then, and this is now.
 
On 25 May 2012 18:17, Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
 
Incidentally, 
 
 
T.S.Eliot’s Letter to “The Nation”
 
A paper by George Simmers
The American Modernism Conference 
Brookes University  
September 2006
http://greatwarfiction.wordpress.com/tseliots-letter-to-the-nation/ 
 
 
 
It takes note of a gripping poem by Eliot 
"In silent corridors of death".
 
 
CR
 

From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2012 11:20 AM
Subject: The Waste Land as a War Poem (Was Re: Yeats, An Irish Airman . . .)
 
 
 
Thanks, Carrol.
 
A very powerful portrayal of a grim scenario.   
The 20th century must be the darkest period of human history. 
A genuine frame of reference for The Waste Land, the century's 
 
bleakest poem. Here are some excerpts for the list's
consideration.
 
 
CR
 
 
---
 
 
from Eliot's Notes to The Waste Land:
 
 
366-76. Cf. Hermann Hesse, Blick ins Chaos: 
Schon ist halb Europa, schon ist zumindest der halbe Osten Europas auf dem Wege zum Chaos, fährt betrunken im heiligen Wahn am Abgrund entlang und singt dazu, singt betrunken und hymnisch wie Dmitri Karamasoff sang. Ueber diese Lieder lacht der Bürger beleidigt, der Heilige und Seher hört sie mit Tränen. 
[Already half of Europe, already at least half of Eastern Europe, on the way to Chaos, drives drunk in sacred infatuation along the edge of the precipice, sings drunkenly, as though hymn singing, as Dmitri Karamazov [in Dostoyevski's Brothers Karamazov] sang. The offended bourgeois laughs at the songs; the saint and the seer hear them with tears.]
 
 
 
 
---
 
 
One may view the following lines of the poem vis-a-vis the first World War:
 
 
 
 
What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow  
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,  20
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only  
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,  
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,  
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only  
There is shadow under this red rock,  25
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),  
And I will show you something different from either  
Your shadow at morning striding behind you  
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;  
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
 
 
That corpse you planted last year in your garden,  
Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?  
Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?  
Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men,  
Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again!
 
 
I think we are in rats’ alley 115
Where the dead men lost their bones.
 
 
The river’s tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf  
Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind  
Crosses the brown land, unheard.
 
 
But at my back in a cold blast I hear 185
The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear.
 
 
A rat crept softly through the vegetation  
Dragging its slimy belly on the bank
 
 
White bodies naked on the low damp ground  
And bones cast in a little low dry garret,  
Rattled by the rat’s foot only, year to year.
 
 
To Carthage then I came  
 
Burning burning burning burning  
O Lord Thou pluckest me out  
O Lord Thou pluckest 310
 
burning
 
 
He who was living is now dead  
 
We who were living are now dying  
With a little patience
 
 
Here is no water but only rock
 
 
What is that sound high in the air  
Murmur of maternal lamentation  
Who are those hooded hordes swarming  
Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth  
Ringed by the flat horizon only 370
What is the city over the mountains  
Cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air  
Falling towers  
Jerusalem Athens Alexandria  
Vienna London 375
Unreal
 
 
A woman drew her long black hair out tight  
And fiddled whisper music on those strings  
And bats with baby faces in the violet light  
Whistled, and beat their wings 380
And crawled head downward down a blackened wall  
And upside down in air were towers  
Tolling reminiscent bells, that kept the hours  
And voices singing out of empty cisterns and exhausted wells.
 
 
Datta: what have we given?  
My friend, blood shaking my heart  
The awful daring of a moment’s surrender  
Which an age of prudence can never retract  
By this, and this only, we have existed 405
Which is not to be found in our obituaries  
Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider  
Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor  
In our empty rooms
 
 
Dayadhvam: I have heard the key  
Turn in the door once and turn once only  
We think of the key, each in his prison  
Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison  
Only at nightfall, aetherial rumours 415
Revive for a moment a broken Coriolanus
 
 
Le Prince d’Aquitaine à la tour abolie
These fragments I have shored against my ruins
 
 
Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.  
 
      Shantih    shantih    shantih 
 
 
---
He who was living is now dead  
We who were living are now dying  
With a little patience 
 
 
 
There is the empty chapel, only the wind’s home. 
 
 
 
 
 
---
 
 
The world is trying the experiment of attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality. The experiment will fail; but we must be very patient in awaiting its collapse; meanwhile redeeming the time; so that the Faith may be preserved alive through the dark ages before us; to renew and rebuild civilization, and to save the world from suicide. — T. S. Eliot, “Thoughts After Lambeth”  
 
 
 
 
 
 

From: Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]>;
Subject: Yeats, An Irish Airman . . .
Sent: Thu, May 24, 2012 3:17:15 AM
 
 
 
Meditation on a theme from Yeats
 
It has been over 50 years since I saw All Quiet on the  Western Front, and I
remember one scene (or hope I remember accurately) near the end. The burly
sergeant is carrying a wounded man slung over his back. Then in an upper
corner of the screen a plane appears in the distance. Then there is a brief
chatter of machine-gun fire and the sergeant trudges on, unaware that the
man on his back is now dead. I think of that corner of the screen whenever I
think of Yeats's wonderful and vile poem, "An Irish Airman Foresees His
Death." That airman is in the air (as the poem makes clear) for pure
personal joy: he neither loves the 'side' he fights for nor hates the 'side'
he fights against; no conclusion of the war can bring either joy or sorrow
to those he loves. That scene near the end of All Quiet brings that airman
vividly to mind. The war is over; there can be no rational motive for the
flier; he kills for joy, as does the sniper in the movie's most famous
scene, at the very end, when the central character, moments before the
armistice takes effect, reaches out for a butterfly, is seen by the sniper,
and killed.
 
What brought all this to mind was listening to a radio program on Straus's
_Elektra_, which was framed by the opera's appearance at a time, 1909,  when
the 20th-c was looked forward to as a century of peace and plenty -- five
years before the Horror of WW1, and by an occurrence three years before the
death of Strauss, the fire-bombing of Dresden (where Elektra had been
produced in 1909) -- a raid as near to the end of WW2, for all practical
purposes, as that airplane in the corner of the screen had been to the end
of WW1: 40,000 people died in that pointless raid. (Read Vonnegut's
Slaughter House Five). And the century was to end with the deliberate
destruction by the U.S. Air Force of the sewage system of Baghdad and, a few
years after the close of the century, the horror of Fallujah, an equal to
any of the great atrocities of the 20th-c. Whenever I read or think of
Yeats's poem it calls up for me this history -- and also the present: a
soldier comes home from Afghanistan and greets his mother with, "Mom, I'm a
monster." My dentist, who served a year in Vietnam, is dying of ALS --
almost certainly as a result of exposure to Agent Orange. The Vietnamese
people, of course, continue to be exposed to that deadly chemical: during
the war a book on it was entitled: Not Since the Romans Salted the Earth.
The Romans made of Carthage a wasteland, the U.S. made of Vietnam an endless
destroyer of the people who must live there. The death toll so far
approaches 3 million and counting.
 
I don't know enough about music in general or Wagner & Strauss in particular
to really make sense of the radio program I listened to an hour ago, but it
was of interest that the woman recounting it said of Elektra that though
produced 5 years before the beginning of the Century of Horror in fact was
truer to that coming world than to the optimistic world in which it was
composed and produced. And this brings me to Eliot's grim War Poem, TWL. It
is against this tapestry that An Irish Airman or All Quiet epitomize that we
should see Eliot's poem. We've already discussed the grim irony of the final
line. I would like to suggest that we should see the domestic scenes (of
frustrated or sterile sexuality) within that same context. (Bernard DeVoto,
in a somewhat philistine harangue still of interest was to remark that
people like the young man carbuncular and the typist were to be the heroes
of the Battle of Britain. If you think about it, that does not lessen but
enhance the poem's power.) TWL gives us life on the home front of a savage
and purposeless war, a war that introduced a century of unending violence:
think of them as 'citizens' of Dresden. "The anatomy of man is a key to the
anatomy of the ape," an aphorism which Bertell Ollman usefully glosses with
the concept of "doing history backward." An event, an act, a whole age
throws little light on the future: without the perspective given by homo
sapiens the potential of that species in the ape could not be recognized;
without the perspective given by modern capitalism the 'meaning' of events
in the 16th-c British countryside could not be grasped. (See Ellen Meisins
Wood, _The Origin of Capitalism: A Longer View_). I want to suggest that
Dresden & Agent Orange & Fallujah give us the perspective from which we can
more vividly see that final line of TWL as well as the inability of TWL's
personae to achieve sexual satisfaction. The meaning of "Finding the stairs
unlit" revealed 90 years later with "Mom, I'm a monster." The meaning of
Lil's husband in Iraq & Afghanistan veterans throwing their medals into the
street in Chicago:
only water" 'fulfilled' in the destruction of Fallujah.
 
This is not a 'reading' of TWL; it is just one of many frames within which a
reading could be developed.
 
Carrol
 
Carrol