"In the room the women come and go / Talking of Michelangelo."
On Saturday, April 19, 2014, Rickard A. Parker <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
I don't think I would have bothered to point out this latest of the
Guardian's "How to Believe" series except that the ending paragraph (below)
touches on a few recent TSE list topics.
The poem draws on and shatters into pieces the polite culture of Eliot's
cultivated youth – bits of Arthurian lore, echoes of Shakespeare and
Goldsmith and Ovid – as well as less conventionally acceptable literature –
a line from Baudelaire here, of de Nerval there. It draws on Christianity –
the agony in the garden, the unrecognisable companion on the road to Emmaus,
the allusions to St Augustine in spiritual crisis – and Buddhism, with the
three-fold commands of the thunder in the last section. Yet, at best, it
offers little consolation; after the seeming resolution of the commands of
the thunder's precepts, it bursts out in anguish again with a line from
Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy – "Hieronymo's mad againe" (Eliot will have known
that Kyd was a notorious atheist, one of Marlowe's School of Night). The
thunder repeats, but the call to peace at the end – "Shantih, shantih,
shantih" – is perhaps the peace of exhaustion rather than acceptance. Eliot
is presenting a diagnosis of his, and our, sickness, but he is not yet sure
of the prescription – which is why, perhaps, The Waste Land is so great a poem.
TS Eliot's The Waste Land: the radical text of a wounded culture
The poem draws on draws on the Christianity of Eliot's polite and cultivated
youth – yet at best offers little consolation
theguardian.com, Thursday 17 April 2014