As a rule I follow Northrop Frye in not indulging in ‘ranking’ writers. (Frye compared evaluative criticism to an imaginary stock market: Shelley’s shares are down 3 pts; Browning has gained 1 pt, etc.) So I wouldn’t try to argue who was “the better poet.” But over the last 50 years I have spent many more hours reading Pound than reading Eliot. Now that my eyes are gone, I can still read Pound (& Milton & Pope) in my mind as it were. I couldn’t say that of Eliot.
TWL & Gerontion are powerful poems however.
Eliot thought of prefacing Gerontion to TWL. Pound said No. That might be considered to indicate that Pound had more ‘faith’ in TWL. or at least was less worried about its coherence, than Eliot.
From: T. S. Eliot
Discussion forum. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Nancy Gish
Sent: Sunday, June 17, 2012 12:06 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: il miglior fabbro
I have not read about the questioning of "fabbro" despite having had to reread masses of the early stuff to write the reception article for Chinitz's book. I'm fascinated. But it has generally been read, I think, not as the better poet but as the better craftsman, a reference to the editing. The line is from Purgatorio--now I want to check the source. But do you know what they thought he did mean?
I'm not sure I would agree even about the editing, in any case, since it was part of what started up the long Jesse Weston line. And as Hugh Kenner said, no one who read only the first four sections would ever believe they were based on Weston. I think that became an after-the-fact framework not really present in much of the facsimile except the very last bit. And at the time Eliot was both extremely stressed (having or recovering from his breakdown) and willing to accept Pound's judgment in a way he would not have done later.
>>> Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> 06/17/12 12:14 PM >>>
Nancy: What the author makes of it, in this case, is very much what
Hieronymo did: he creates a passage of many languages full of images of
chaos and destroyed cities.
The "Shantih" is deeply ambiguous; in its post WWI context it is not simply
or clearly about the peace you see as its "own context" either. So by
assuming and continually asserting that meaning you are apparently missing
your own point.
Here's the problem. The writers you are responding to are not, actually,
interested in Eliot, or his poem. Nor, really, are they interested in poetry
of any sort. An interest in poetry is incompatible with twisting any poem
into support of some individual's "world view," and that is what they are
doing with TWL. It is not, for them, a poem, but a mirror in which they can
see reflected their merely individual biases & intellectual peculiarities.
And it follows from this that they have no interest in sharing the poem with
others: An interest in sharing one's perspective on a poem requires that one
seeks common ground: common ground, of course, is not the same as agreement
but rather understanding of what it is they agree or disagree on.
For example. I suspect that if you and I were to carry on a long discussion
of the functioning of "Shantih" in the poem we would eventually define some
disagreements, but we would understand (i.e., share) a _framework_ that
focused the disagreement.
As far as I can tell, that sort of discussion is not possible with Peter or
P.S. It has been many years since I read much commentary on Eliot, but I
vaguely recall that a number of critics in the '40s or '50s labored to
'prove' that Eliot meant something narrow and 'technical' by "fabbro," that
is, that he wasn't really saying that Pound was a good poet.