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Dear Peter,
 
You are not alone in this. Almost every critic even before and during the religious phrase has had to deal with Eliot's antipathy to sex and human love.
 
It is one of the ironies of his life that his only adult happiness did, in fact, come from that when he finally found it in his 60s with Valerie. And it produced only one poem, a pretty awful one. He never wrote a love poem except that. But the early poetry is full of loathing of women (for a much more hateful version, see the representation of Fresca in the Facsimile, which Pound had the sense to cut with a fairly harsh dismissal. Fresca is called "a doorstep dunged by every dog in town"--very loving. Interestingly, though, there is a kind of sympathy for the sorrows of women in the treatment of the typist and the Thames daughters--or perhaps not, depending on how one reads it. But Eliot did add and then remove allusions to Dido, a story that always seemed to haunt him--even in 1944. It is a very complicated topic, clearly. But it is not about a man loving a woman except generally in images of guilt, like that of Aeneas in the underworld.
 
Also there is nothing of love in "La Figlia che Piange" unless one counts the sorrow of the young girl, whom the narrator contemplates abandoning and considers in terms of its aesthetic interest. And ironically the passage on the rose garden was written in a description of his trip to Burnt Norton with Emily Hale. He did imagine he loved her for some time but came to feel he could not, but that poem is not about loving her. It is about what did not happen. None of the passages below is about love except the last, and that is divine love, not human love except as it is in Dante's heaven.
 
4Q is also, of course, written during and is partly about War. In this case WWII when Eliot was a fire watcher. And his allusions in "Little Gidding" to the "king at nightfall" are about England's civil war that ended in the beheading of Charles I. Charles spent his last safe night at "Little Gidding."
Nancy

>>> Peter Dillane <[log in to unmask]>08/09/13 8:56 PM >>>
Hey CR,

I don't see Eliot's poetry as a treatise on love. 

Of course love - in human affairs and in theological affairs -  is turned over a great lot by Eliot but  it is subordinate to a controlling intellect with other wholly inward looking concerns.

For example I suggest that  the moment of gentle  personal address : "Your heart would have responded gaily"
is changed utterly by  "when invited, beating obedient to controlling hands"

I own to a blind spot with respect to the theologically driven melding of fire and love in the crowned knot of fire but I remain unconvinced that the faithful really can sort out Luke's Jesus with his fire he wishes were already burning. 

I will only start a shitfight about the status of the artist's life in discussion of works  if I mention Emily Hale but let me try an observation from the text that his representation of Celia Coplestone's death which he self censored ( the painting with ant bait idea ) suggests a remoteness from the dynamic of affection that I would respect more if he demanded the lines stayed in the play.

Cheers Pete




On 10/08/2013, at 10:01 AM, Chokh Raj wrote:

Incidentally, a note that throbs through and through Eliot's poetry:

She turned away, but with the autumn weather
Compelled my imagination many days,
Many days and many hours:
Her hair over her arms and her arms full of flowers.        20
And I wonder how they should have been together!
I should have lost a gesture and a pose.
Sometimes these cogitations still amaze
The troubled midnight and the noon’s repose. 

---

I would meet you upon this honestly.
I that was near your heart was removed therefrom        55
To lose beauty in terror, terror in inquisition.
I have lost my passion: why should I need to keep it
Since what is kept must be adulterated?
I have lost my sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch:
How should I use it for your closer contact? 

---

“You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;  35
They called me the hyacinth girl.”  
—Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,  
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not  
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither  
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,  40
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.

---

Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone. 

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

---

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessèd face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again

---

Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. 

In fine, love and a progression on love, culminating in a note of union 
of the human and the divine love: 

All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

CR



We must also keep in mind Eliot's later description of the poem as “the relief of a personal and wholly insignificant grouse against life … just a piece of rhythmical grumbling." It only confirms that the poem was essentially a lament on the loss of love. 

CR


From: Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Friday, August 9, 2013 12:58 PM
Subject: Re: Eliot and WWI

PS - fructify life and redeem it in terms of divine love

CR



Forgive my rushing in but I just wished to say that I'd concur with Tom. 

Just a word, vis-a-vis Tom's observations, about Dante's Inferno that keeps coming to my mind vis-a-vis TWL. Hell to Dante was, in effect, the absence of 'love' with all its attributes including those Eliot lists in What the Thunder Said: Datta (Surrender in love), Dayadhvam (the opposite of pride/ego), and  Damyata (Control). Eliot's wasteland is a waste essentially because it is devoid of love, and it is this alone (i.e. love) by which we //fructify life//.

CR