The poetics of the absolute

Eliot's early poetry: 'the ground of our beseeching'

the evening is spread out against the sky

And at the corner of the street
A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
And then the lighting of the lamps.

The conscience of a blackened street

The little lamp spreads a ring on the stair,

If the street were time and he at the end of the street 

His laughter was submarine and profound
Like the old man of the sea’s 
Hidden under coral islands           
Where worried bodies of drowned men drift down in the green silence 

STAND on the highest pavement of the stair—
Lean on a garden urn—
Weave, weave the sunlight in your hair—

HERE I am, an old man in a dry month,
Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain. 

The word within a word, unable to speak a word,
Swaddled with darkness. In the juvescence of the year
Came Christ the tiger

The tiger springs in the new year. Us he devours. 

The horses, under the axletree
  Beat up the dawn from Istria           
With even feet. 

Where are the eagles and the trumpets? 

On montrera mon cénotaphe
Aux côtes brûlantes de Mozambique. 

And Saint Apollinaire, stiff and ascetic
Old factory of God, is still
In its stones ècroulantes the precise form of Byzantium.

Flesh and blood is weak and frail,          
Susceptible to nervous shock;
While the True Church can never fail
For it is based upon a rock.

Tiens, voilà dix sous, pour la salle-de-bains.

No contact possible to flesh           
Allayed the fever of the bone.

But through the water pale and thin
Still shine the unoffending feet
And there above the painter set           
The Father and the Paraclete.

The nightingales are singing near           
The Convent of the Sacred Heart, 

Frisch weht der Wind
Der Heimat zu,
Mein Irisch Kind,
Wo weilest du?

Unreal City, 

At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives 
Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea,

O City City, I can sometimes hear  
Beside a public bar in Lower Thames Street,     
The pleasant whining of a mandoline  
And a clatter and a chatter from within  
Where fishmen lounge at noon: where the walls  
Of Magnus Martyr hold  
Inexplicable splendour of Ionian white and gold.

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
                                For Thine is the Kingdom


The illuminations, the quest, and an absolutist poetics!


From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Sunday, September 2, 2012 10:37 PM
Subject: Re: Ritual and Experiment in Eliot's Early Poetry

An occasion for me to reaffirm -- vis-a-vis Eliot's early poetry -that it is here, for the first time perhaps, that //the aesthetics of poetry has so subtly been wedded to the absolutes of a religious belief.//  


From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Saturday, September 1, 2012 10:56 AM
Subject: Ritual and Experiment in Eliot's Early Poetry

sharing a reading

Ritual and Experiment in Modern Poetry
Jacob Korg
Palgrave Macmillan, 1995 - 240 pages 

"Korg's study illuminates the manner in which the major poets of the early twentieth century attempted to overcome the division between the cultures of religion and science." 

Chapter 4 (pp. 39-56) on 'TS Eliot's Early Poems' is a fascinating study on the subject. 
Jacob Korg is professor emeritus of English at the University of Washington.