And the 'Four Quartets' vis-a-vis World War 2 

"O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark...
 And we all go with them, into the silent funeral, 
 Nobody's funeral, for there is no one to bury." 

'Published in the fiery days of World War II, Four Quartets stands as a testament to the power of poetry amid the chaos of the time. Let the words speak for themselves: "The dove descending breaks the air / With flame of incandescent terror / Of which the tongues declare / The only discharge from sin and error. / The only hope, or else despair / Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre-- / To be redeemed from fire by fire."'


Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote Wednesday, November 21, 2012 3:19 PM: 

Percy Wyndham Lewis
an excerpt
From 1916 to 1918 Lewis served on the Western Front as a battery officer. He was also commissioned byLord Beaverbrook and the Canadian War Memorials Fund to paint A Canadian Gun Pit. However, his most famous war painting is A Battery Shelled. The art critic of The Daily Express argued: "Wyndham Lewis endeavours to show the war in terms of energy - Battery Shelled - in which the symbolism dominates, in which men lose their human form in action; chimneys wave and bend, and the very shells zigzag in lumps and masses across the sky."
Percy Wyndham Lewis, A Battery Shelled (1919)
The war changed Percy Wyndham Lewis' views on art as a result of his experiences in the First World War. He told a friend that Vorticism was only "a little narrow segment of time, on the far side of the war... you have to regard, as far as I am concerned, as a black solid mass, cutting off all that went before it". It has been argued that the "destructive power of a war dominated by terrible mechanical weapons altered Lewis's attitude towards the machine age."

From: P <[log in to unmask]>
To: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 2:31 PM
Subject: Re: trench

Percy Wyndham Lewis of Vorticist fame, being a Canadian was able to get work as an official war artist for the Can. Archives. He said the battle fields in their fluid formless states taught him how to paint.

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

'The Waste Land' vis-a-vis WW1

"'The horror!  the horror!'" 
(from the epigraph to the original version of The Waste Land)

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.

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! 

Goonight Bill. Goonight Lou. Goonight May. Goonight. 170
Ta ta. Goonight. Goonight.  
Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night.

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. 

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.

A rat crept softly through the vegetation  
Dragging its slimy belly on the bank  
While I was fishing in the dull canal  
On a winter evening round behind the gashouse. 190
Musing upon the king my brother’s wreck  
And on the king my father’s death before him.  
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.

Burning burning burning burning  
O Lord Thou pluckest me out  
O Lord Thou pluckest 310

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

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.

In this decayed hole among the mountains 385
In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing  
Over the tumbled graves, about the chapel  
There is the empty chapel, only the wind’s home.


From: Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 12:14 AM
Subject: Re: trench

By Ford Madox Hueffer
An October like November;
August a hundred thousand hours,
And all September,
A hundred thousand, dragging sunlit days, 5
And half October like a thousand years …
And doom!
That then was Antwerp …
In the name of God,
How could they do it? 10
Those souls that usually dived
Into the dirty caverns of mines;
Who usually hived
In whitened hovels; under ragged poplars;
Who dragged muddy shovels, over the grassy mud, 15
Lumbering to work over the greasy sods …
Those men there, with the appearance of clods
Were the bravest men that a usually listless priest of God
Ever shrived …
And it is not for us to make them an anthem. 20
If we found words there would come no wind that would fan them
To a tune that the trumpets might blow it,
Shrill through the heaven that’s ours or yet Allah’s,
Or the wide halls of any Valhallas.
We can make no such anthem. So that all that is ours 25
For inditing in sonnets, pantoums, elegiacs, or lays
Is this:
“In the name of God, how could they do it?”
For there is no new thing under the sun,
Only this uncomely man with a smoking gun 30
In the gloom….
What the devil will he gain by it?
Digging a hole in the mud and standing all day in the rain by it
Waiting his doom;
The sharp blow, the swift outpouring of the blood 35
Till the trench of gray mud
Is turned to a brown purple drain by it.
Well, there have been scars
Won in many wars,
Punic, 40
Lacedæmonian, wars of Napoleon, wars for faith, wars for honor, for love, for possession,
But this Belgian man in his ugly tunic,
His ugly round cap, shooting on, in a sort of obsession,
Overspreading his miserable land,
Standing with his wet gun in his hand…. 45
He finds that in a sudden scrimmage,
And lies, an unsightly lump on the sodden grass …
An image that shall take long to pass!
For the white-limbed heroes of Hellas ride by upon their horses
Forever through our brains.
The heroes of Cressy ride by upon their stallions;
And battalions and battalions and battalions—
The Old Guard, the Young Guard, the men of Minden and of Waterloo,
Pass, for ever staunch, 55
Stand, for ever true;
And the small man with the large paunch,
And the gray coat, and the large hat, and the hands behind the back,
Watches them pass
In our minds for ever…. 60
But that clutter of sodden corses
On the sodden Belgian grass—
That is a strange new beauty.
With no especial legends of matchings or triumphs or duty,
Assuredly that is the way of it, 65
The way of beauty….
And that is the highest word you can find to say of it.
For you cannot praise it with words
Compounded of lyres and swords,
But the thought of the gloom and the rain 70
And the ugly coated figure, standing beside a drain,
Shall eat itself into your brain:
And you will say of all heroes, “They fought like the Belgians!”
And you will say, “He wrought like a Belgian his fate out of gloom.”
And you will say, “He bought like a Belgian 75
His doom.”
And that shall be an honorable name;
“Belgian” shall be an honorable word;
As honorable as the fame of the sword,
As honorable as the mention of the many-chorded lyre, 80
And his old coat shall seem as beautiful as the fabrics woven in Tyre.
And what in the world did they bear it for?
I don’t know.
And what in the world did they dare it for?
Perhaps that is not for the likes of me to understand. 85
They could very well have watched a hundred legions go
Over their fields and between their cities
Down into more southerly regions.
They could very well have let the legions pass through their woods,
And have kept their lives and their wives and their children and cattle and goods. 90
I don’t understand.
Was it just love of their land?
Oh, poor dears!
Can any man so love his land?
Give them a thousand thousand pities 95
And rivers and rivers of tears
To wash off the blood from the cities of Flanders.
This is Charing Cross;
It is midnight;
There is a great crowd 100
And no light—
A great crowd, all black, that hardly whispers aloud.
Surely, that is a dead woman—a dead mother!
She has a dead face;
She is dressed all in black; 105
She wanders to the book-stall and back,
At the back of the crowd;
And back again and again back,
She sways and wanders.
This is Charing Cross; 110
It is one o’clock.
There is still a great cloud, and very little light;
Immense shafts of shadows over the black crowd
That hardly whispers aloud….
And now!… That is another dead mother, 115
And there is another and another and another….
And little children, all in black,
All with dead faces, waiting in all the waiting-places,
Wandering from the doors of the waiting-room
In the dim gloom. 120
These are the women of Flanders:
They await the lost.
They await the lost that shall never leave the dock;
They await the lost that shall never again come by the train
To the embraces of all these women with dead faces; 125
They await the lost who lie dead in trench and barrier and fosse,
In the dark of the night.
This is Charing Cross; it is past one of the clock;
There is very little light.
There is so much pain. 130
And it was for this that they endured this gloom;
This October like November,
That August like a hundred thousand hours,
And that September,
A hundred thousand dragging sunlit days 135
And half October like a thousand years….
Oh, poor dears!

>>> "Rickard A. Parker" <[log in to unmask]> 11/20/12 10:34 PM >>>
On Tue, 20 Nov 2012 10:49:00 -0800, P <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>Thanks Rickard. I tried. :)
>It's quite remarkable isn't it!
>One doesn't get the Victoria Cross for just any old act of courage.
>They're as scarce as hens' teeth.
>P. M.

A few lines from "Antwerp" by Ford Madox Hueffer:

And what in the world did they bear it for?    
I don’t know.    
And what in the world did they dare it for?    
Perhaps that is not for the likes of me to understand.

The poem in full is at:

And, getting back on topic, in a paper entitled 'T.S. Eliot’s Letter to “The
Nation”' there are the following paragraphs:

[Eliot] certainly didn’t feel that most war poetry took the war
seriously. At a time when patriotic effusions were just about everywhere, he
pointedly remarked that “Antwerp” by Ford Madox Hueffer was “the only good
poem I have met with on the subject of the war”. “Antwerp” is a poem about
the paradox of courage and endurance emerging among men who appear banal. It
does not evade “the sordid and disagreeable” and shows how the business
“must be put through”.

Eliot was looking at the English war not just through the eyes of an
American who could see the oddity of much that the English took for granted,
but with a sensibility educated by reading Laforgue and Baudelaire. The
banal, the sordid and the horrific were subjects with which poetry must in
some way deal. Eliot’s critical prose of the war years is full of praise for
writers who face the horrific, and ridicule for those who avoid it, or try
to explain it away.

If we haven't seen this webpage before we certainly have seen the letter
that Eliot submitted to "The Nation" magazine. It was a letter from the
front by a young Army officer that was most likey from his brother-in-law. I
draw your attention to

Rick Parker