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Valuable comments, Pete.

The savage and the brute is an aspect of human nature which, I learnt somewhere (or is it my fancy), which fascinated Eliot, and Sweeney could only be the projection of an aspect of the poet, and not a character external to him, even if based on some known model. Giving expression to Sweeney could be exorcising the demon in him. Maybe the journey from S to SA is the poet's own psychic journey. Well, just a thought.

CR


From: Peter Dillane <[log in to unmask]>;
To: <[log in to unmask]>;
Subject: Re: Sweeney's golden grin?
Sent: Wed, Aug 1, 2012 2:32:04 AM

Yes CR I often wonder if it is poor intellectual form to wonder whether Eliot  is clear about his attitude to Sweeney – ie am I indulging in silly conjecture missing the point.

apeneck and shifting from ham to ham suggests  a kind of mute animal indifference to cerebral processes and the poet sounds analytically cool but it is not exactly Tennesse Williams saying of Stanley “look out or the gorillas will take over” so I wonder if he is unequivocally  a bete noire of brute libido for Eliot.

and the title “Sweeney Agonistes”  focuses my mind on Milton’s Samson who is chained to one spot with others from his life coming to visit his circumstance  whereas Sweeney seems to come into the circumstances of others   both here and in the SA play. I allow the missionary isle stuff takes up the kind of frivolous word riff of the others  in SA but then it is  more laden with menace and therefore significance than Doris’ other visitors’ strophes but when he rolls into  the man who did a girl in the language is differentiating too.

 

Cheers Pete

 

 

From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Chokh Raj
Sent: Wednesday, 1 August 2012 11:58 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Fw: Sweeney's golden grin?

 

This is just to highlight two observations by you, Peter Dillane, one about the ambiguity of 'golden' in the "golden grin", the other a couple about 'circumscribing':

 

>[Is] "golden" a glorious adjective or a more sinister toothy gold capped leer? 

 

>I wonder what I am supposed to think about that circumscribing which is only apparent when you view him from inside. 

 

>Do you think circumscribe is just to surround or is it to delimit[?]  

 

The ambiguity of 'golden', to my mind, evokes the hiatus between the "toothy gold capped leer" and the "glorious" aspect of 'golden'. The glorious aspect is evident in the subsequent scenario where 

 

          The nightingales are singing near       

          The Convent of the Sacred Heart 

 

[BTW, juxtaposition, or presence in the same poem, of disparate images, I believe, mutual 

bearings. It modifies our response by way of contrast.]

 

The other observation about "circumscribing" being evident only when viewed from inside has rich connotations. An exercise for the listers, if you like. 

 

I also appreciate the question, Pete, whether the circumscribing merely frames the golden grin or is it of a "delimiting", liberating sort. 

 

I wonder if literary scholarship has taken into account these ramifications. 

 

CR 

 

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Monday, July 30, 2012 8:57 AM
Subject: Re: Sweeney's golden grin?

 

Interesting observations, Pete.

My attempt at resolving the indistinction of persons and places is only aimed at discerning the pattern, if there is any, behind Sweeney's paradoxical behavior.

Your observation about circumscribing, visible only from inside, is remarkable, with profound connotations.
Apparently it is the omniscient narrator who takes note of it from a specific angle.

CR

 


From: Peter Dillane <[log in to unmask]>;
To: <[log in to unmask]>;
Subject: Re: Sweeney's golden grin?
Sent: Mon, Jul 30, 2012 4:24:44 AM

yes I also CR  as most would I think but  I still ask myself why I engage in that economy of narrative collaboration when the poet goes out of his way to tease out who is who for  each event.

 

As Nancy also observed (paraphrasing from memory ) it is a poem of transient indistinct events with a grave menace in the background.  If there is a kind of slippage or indistinct view of person and place I cant see why I should be so sure of my presumptions that I know who is who.

 

The persons represented all are gravity bound to this room  and find themselves in specific locations except Sweeney who is also guarding something like the gates of hell  when the vista slips towards the river plate and  he also gets out from under the girl seamlessly and then  outside if that is him at the window.

 

outside with the nightingales.. I wonder what I am supposed to think about that circumscribing which is only apparent when you view him from inside.

 

Cheers Pete

 

----- Original Message -----

From: Chokh Raj

Sent: Monday, July 30, 2012 1:56 PM

Subject: Re: Sweeney's golden grin?

 

Thanks, Pete. Much grist for my grind.

"The person in the Spanish cape / Tries to sit on Sweeney’s knees"

I always thought "the man with heavy eyes" to be Sweeney who, apprehending the two ladies to be "suspect", declines the gambit, pretends fatigue with heavy eyes and departs.
 
CR

 


From: Peter Dillane <[log in to unmask]>;
To: <[log in to unmask]>;
Subject: Re: Sweeney's golden grin?
Sent: Mon, Jul 30, 2012 3:00:56 AM

Hi CR,

 

 no I can't but who says the man with heavy eyes is Sweeney? The next stanza starts "The host with someone indistinct" which I would say could be said of all present except when explicitly say it is Sweeney whose knee is identified as the place to fall from. The stage setting is provided with specific locations but shifting naming of the characters. Now this is reminiscent of the alternate names of epic oral verse but it is self conscious here not entirely a nod to tradition. I feel as if there is a nightmare crowd of shape shifting players 'the person" in the cape is "she" once she is on the floor and later "the lady in the cape" so I guess I am ok to say this is one person and that is the one in league with another "she" who because of proximity of reference is Rachel nee Rabinovitch  but still it could be the "silent vertebrate in brown"  that is the other she although the "brown" suggests it is the silent man of the preceding stanza. Nancy has written that this poem relies less on conscious cleverness than the other Sweeney poems but I find this kind of gambit distracting  . Do you think circumscribe is just to surround or is it to delimit and is "golden" a glorious adjective or a more sinister toothy gold capped leer?

 

Cheers Pete

 

 

On 30/07/2012, at 12:07 PM, Chokh Raj wrote:



There's an anomaly (?) between Sweeney's animal laughter in the opening stanza and his later golden grin. Could someone please explain it? Here's the opening stanza:

APENECK SWEENEY spreads his knees
Letting his arms hang down to laugh,
The zebra stripes along his jaw
Swelling to maculate giraffe.

CR

 


From: P <[log in to unmask]>;
To: <[log in to unmask]>;
Subject: Re: Sweeney's golden grin?
Sent: Mon, Jul 30, 2012 1:27:30 AM

Really wonderful poetry!!
P.M.x


Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

She and the lady in the cape           
Are suspect, thought to be in league;
Therefore the man with heavy eyes
Declines the gambit, shows fatigue,
 
Leaves the room and reappears
Outside the window, leaning in,         
Branches of wistaria
Circumscribe a golden grin;

'Sweeney among the Nightingales'



Incidentally, a picture of Wisteria at 

 

CR