Just one instance of the alacrity, the sensitivity and the pace with which Eliot's sensibility responded to Laforgue's influence. Here's Lyndall Gordon's insightful account:
p. 42 "At once, on discovering Symons, Eliot ordered three volumes of Laforgue from France. The Oeuvres completes must have arrived in the spring of 1909, certainly in time for Eliot to read them over the summer, and late in the autumn he began to pour out new
Eliot's Notes to The Waste Land: some idea of Eliot's facility with and insight into languages apart from English
V. Tristan und Isolde, i, verses 5-8.
60. Cf. Baudelaire:
Fourmillante cité, cité pleine de rêves,
Où le spectre en plein jour raccroche le passant.
63. Cf. Dante's Inferno, iii. 55-7:
si lunga tratta
di gente, ch'io non avrei mai creduto
che morte tanta n'avesse disfatta.
64. Cf. 63. Cf. Dante's Inferno, iv. 25-27:
Quivi, secondo che per ascoltare,
non avea pianto, ma' che di sospiri,
che l'aura eterna facevan tremare.
92. Laquearia. V. Aeneid, I. 726:
dependent lychni laquearibus aureis incensi, et noctem flammis funalia
218. Tiresias, although a mere spectator and not indeed a 'character', is yet the most important personage in the poem, uniting all the rest. Just as the one-eyed merchant, seller of currants, melts into the Phoenician Sailor, and the latter is not wholly distinct from Ferdinand Prince of
Naples, so all the
women are one woman, and the two sexes meet in Tiresias. What Tiresiassees, in fact, is the substance of the poem. The whole passage from Ovid is of great anthropological interest:
Cum Iunone iocos et 'maior vestra profecto est
Quam, quae contingit maribus', dixisse, 'voluptas.'
Illa negat; placuit quae sit sententia docti
Quaerere Tiresiae: venus huic erat utraque nota.
Nam duo magnorum viridi coeuntia silva
Corpora serpentum baculi violaverat ictu
Deque viro factus, mirabile, femina septem
Egerat autumnos; octavo rursus eosdem
Vidit et 'est vestrae si tanta potentia plagae',
Dixit 'ut auctoris sortem in contraria mutet,
feriam!' percussis anguibus isdem
Forma prior rediit genetivaque venit imago.
Arbiter hic igitur sumptus de lite iocosa
Dicta Iovis firmat; gravius Saturnia iusto
Nec pro materia fertur doluisse suique
Iudicis aeterna damnavit lumina nocte,
At pater omnipotens (neque enim licet inrita cuiquam
Facta dei fecisse deo) pro lumine adempto
Scire futura dedit poenamque levavit honore.
221. This may not appear as exact as Sappho's lines, but I had in mind the 'longshore' or 'dory' fisherman, who returns at nightfall. 266. The Song of the (three) Thames-daughters begins here. From line 292 to
306 inclusive they speak in turn. V. Götterdammerung, III. i: The Rhine-daughters. 279. V. Froude, Elizabeth, vol. I, ch. iv, letter of De Quadra to Philip of Spain:
In the afternoon we were in a barge, watching the games on the river. (The queen) was alone with Lord Robert and myself on the poop, when they began to talk nonsense, and went so far that Lord Robert at last said, as I was on the spot there was no
reason why they should not be married if the queen pleased.
293. Cf. Purgatorio, V. 133:
'Ricorditi di me, che son la Pia;
Siena mi fe', disfecemi Maremma.'
IV. DEATH BY WATER
366-76. Cf. Hermann Hesse, Blick ins Chaos:
Schon ist halb Europa, schon ist zumindest der halbe Osten Europas auf dem Wege zum Chaos, fährt betrunken im heiligen Wahn am Abgrund entlang und singt dazu, singt betrunken und hymnisch wie Dmitri Karamasoff sang. Ueber diese Lieder lacht der Bürger beleidigt, der Heilige und Seher hört sie mit Tränen.
401. 'Datta, dayadhvam, damyata' (Give, sympathize, control). The fable of the meaning of the Thunder is found in the Brihadaranyaka--Upanishad, 5, 1. A translation is found in Deussen's Sechzig Upanishads des Veda, p. 489. 411. Cf. Dante's Inferno, xxxiii. 46:
ed io sentii chiavar l'uscio di sotto
427. V. Purgatorio, xxvi. 148.
'Ara vos prec per aquella valor
'que vos guida al som de l'escalina,
'sovegna vos a temps de ma dolor.'
Poi s'ascose nel foco che gli affina.
428. V. Pervigilium Veneris. Cf. Philomela in Parts II and III. 429. V. Gerard de Nerval, Sonnet El Desdichado. 433. Shantih. Repeated as here, a formal ending to an Upanishad. 'The Peace which passeth understanding' is a feeble translation of the conduct of this word.
In this regard it is well worth pointing out that Eliot acknowledged that Laforgue was the first 'to teach me how to speak, to teach me the poetic possibilities of my own idiom of speech.' From Dante Eliot acknowledged having learnt 'the lessons of craft, of speech and exploration of sensibility'. (To Criticize the Critic) A glance at Eliot's Notes to The Waste Land should enable us form some idea of the poet's indebtedness to other languages by way of quotations in those very languages.
You'll excuse me, Rickard, but IMHO, when a sharp and perceptive mind like Eliot's comes into contact with another language, be it Greek, Latin, French, German, Sanskrit or Pali, it is not just a language per se but through that medium an art, a culture, a way of life that informs his creative mind. He imbibes as well the rhythms of that language, the syntax and structure of its thought, as well as its vision of life. Surely it affects in many subtle ways his music of poetry. I wonder in how many subtle ways Eliot's poetry is informed by such influences.
Rickard A. Parker <[log in to unmask]>;
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Re: Eliot's Facility with Language
Fri, Nov 16, 2012 12:52:33 PM
|// I've been thinking but I haven't come up with any way the Eliot's facility
with foreign languages actually helped his writing poetry in English. //
As for his use of the foreign phrases though he often combined several
languages rather close together. Mostly epigraphs but then there is the
closing of TWL. The quickest switch must be in the later dedication to
Verdenal where he has English and French in the first line and then goes on
to a quotation from Dante in the Italian.
It seems to me to the by using the languages so close together E. was
striving to show a universality in life.