In point of fact, the assumed segragation between the religious and the secular in Eliot's work, IMHO, is artificial. The religious view embraces it all, consciously or unconsciously, implicitly or explicitly. 

CR


From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Sunday, September 16, 2012 12:00 PM
Subject: Re: TS Eliot, the greatest religious poet?

a word, again

IMHO, the greatest religious poetry is one that addresses our secular concerns in a most profound manner.
It is not something apart our earthly strife. The Waste Land is certainly one such poem of epic proportions.
It draws upon diverse religious lights -- Pagan, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu -- to seek a way out of the impasse.

CR 


From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>;
To: <[log in to unmask]>;
Subject: Re: TS Eliot, the greatest religious poet?
Sent: Sun, Sep 16, 2012 1:46:59 PM

just a word

IMHO, The Waste Land, Ash-Wednesday, and the Four Quartets remain among
the greatest and finest religious poems of all time.

The smaller poems such as the Journey of the Magi, Marina, and A Song for Simeon 
are gems as well of a most exquisite religious beauty.

Their reading has been a most rewarding poetic pilgrimage.  
One is not likely to come by the likes of these in a long time.

Not that I have done with them. I have yet to begin unfolding them. 
 
The task is rather daunting. But I am surely not alone in this endeavor. 

I find heart in Eliot's "fare forward, voyagers". 
A voyage of discovery, indeed!

CR 


From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>;
To: <[log in to unmask]>;
Subject: Re: TS Eliot, the greatest religious poet?
Sent: Sat, Sep 15, 2012 5:38:55 PM

Poets have sung of their mystical yearning for God. They have dwelt on the simplicity or complexity of their relationship with God. They have all been, in varying degrees, intense and poignant. But when was it that a poet suffered and stood apart from his suffering so as to give it an impersonal voice of universal suffering? When was it that you made the entire tradition chant with you, to make a chorus of your song, to express a universal yearning for the waters of spirituality? 

If there were water  
And no rock  
If there were rock   
And also water  
And water  
A spring  
A pool among the rock  
If there were the sound of water only  
Not the cicada  
And dry grass singing  
But sound of water over a rock  
Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees  
Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop  
But there is no water

Ages have cried, and shall cry, for these waters. There's a prophetic voice at the outset of The Waste Land that calls upon you to come in under the shadow of "this red rock" where you'll be shown "fear in a handful of dust". And if you care to put your ears to the rock, you might hear resonances of God's voice asking you to smite that rock and it will yield water.

CR 


From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Saturday, September 15, 2012 12:45 PM
Subject: Re: TS Eliot, the greatest religious poet?

I cannot but be random. Well, just contemplating these lines from The Waste Land:  

Unreal City,   
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.   
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!   
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!   
You! hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable,—mon frère!”  

The Waste Land is largely an orchestration of the absence of God/Love from things -- 
it is this that defines an inferno. The poet draws upon a manifold tradition to view it 
in contemporary light if only to enrich it. No poet had reminded us of so much in so 
few a lines, and not without their religious implications.  

CR


From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Saturday, September 15, 2012 11:36 AM
Subject: Re: TS Eliot, the greatest religious poet?

And the peerless quality of its incantatory music:

STAND on the highest pavement of the stair—
Lean on a garden urn— 
Weave, weave the sunlight in your hair—
Clasp your flowers to you with a pained surprise—
Fling them to the ground and turn           
With a fugitive resentment in your eyes:
But weave, weave the sunlight in your hair.

--- 

It's a poetic ritual of the first order. 

---

The religious impulse that informs and imbues Eliot's poetry:

Hence the soul cannot be possessed of the divine union,
until it has divested itself of the love of created beings. 

St. John of the Cross. 

--- 

I shall linger a while more on Eliot's early poetry, on some of his peerless moments. 
Peerless they are all, the poems Eliot chose to publish. My emphasis here is on 
the manifold beauty of his religious thought and expression.  

CR 


From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Saturday, September 15, 2012 10:49 AM
Subject: Re: TS Eliot, the greatest religious poet?

I'm struck by the amount of condensation and consequent intensity 
of thought and expression, and the epic reach of Eliot's images. 
Here's just one instance -- a timeless expression of the sense of 
earthly disillusion which is ancillary to an aspiration for the absolute: 

No contact possible to flesh      
Allayed the fever of the bone 

There is an inexhaustible quality about its religious appeal.    

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown         
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

CR 


From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Thursday, September 13, 2012 5:59 PM
Subject: Re: TS Eliot, the greatest religious poet?

The Guardian article

Which religious poets do you love?
Andrew Brown
1 June 2009 
guardian.co.uk 

"[T]he most powerful English religious poet started off as an American. 
There is something in the solemn and desolate music of The Waste Land 
which conveys to me an idea of god by absence and by indirection." 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/andrewbrown/2009/jun/01/religion-poetry 

CR 


From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Thursday, September 13, 2012 9:59 AM
Subject: TS Eliot, the greatest religious poet?

If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word. 

--- 

TS Eliot, the greatest religious poet?

That is what I had read in an article in The Guardian (UK).
It resonated well with what I had felt all along. 
It raises certain questions, though, of how and why.
We need to raise them and answer them as best we can.
I'd love to share my feelings on the subject.
The list is welcome.

CR