The mind of these poets of course.
I don’t claim any universals here. 
Many might share it though. 


On Fri, Aug 3, 2018 at 1:41 PM Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Whose mind? I do not think it an "ideal" and it does not lurk in my mind. So I am concerned when notions that elevate the abstract over the physical world are treated as a given, a universal. They are not.

Ironically, as far as I can tell (and I have been reading Eliot all my life), he was never happy until his marriage to Valerie. And he was very open about his sense of joy and fulfillment after all those years of pronouncing that "ideal." And, also ironically, his late poems to Valerie are extremely and explicitly erotic (if not very good).

So I maybe we all need to read more Donne and Virgil for some perspective.


On Fri, Aug 3, 2018 at 1:31 PM Chanan Mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
I was only taking note of a certain ideal that lurks in the mind. No broad comparisons here. 


On Fri, Aug 3, 2018 at 1:28 PM Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
I know the poem. The point here is that the lovers are to be parted, and so, when parted, they can still love. It does not mean that sense is not central; quite the opposite--these lovers have both and can bear to miss sense when apart.

The Ecstasy
Where, like a pillow on a bed
         A pregnant bank swell'd up to rest
The violet's reclining head,
         Sat we two, one another's best.
Our hands were firmly cemented
         With a fast balm, which thence did spring;
Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread
         Our eyes upon one double string;
So to'intergraft our hands, as yet
         Was all the means to make us one,
And pictures in our eyes to get
         Was all our propagation.
As 'twixt two equal armies fate
         Suspends uncertain victory,
Our souls (which to advance their state
         Were gone out) hung 'twixt her and me.
And whilst our souls negotiate there,
         We like sepulchral statues lay;
All day, the same our postures were,
         And we said nothing, all the day.
If any, so by love refin'd
         That he soul's language understood,
And by good love were grown all mind,
         Within convenient distance stood,
He (though he knew not which soul spake,
         Because both meant, both spake the same)
Might thence a new concoction take
         And part far purer than he came.
This ecstasy doth unperplex,
         We said, and tell us what we love;
We see by this it was not sex,
         We see we saw not what did move;
But as all several souls contain
         Mixture of things, they know not what,
Love these mix'd souls doth mix again
         And makes both one, each this and that.
A single violet transplant,
         The strength, the colour, and the size,
(All which before was poor and scant)
         Redoubles still, and multiplies.
When love with one another so
         Interinanimates two souls,
That abler soul, which thence doth flow,
         Defects of loneliness controls.
We then, who are this new soul, know
         Of what we are compos'd and made,
For th' atomies of which we grow
         Are souls, whom no change can invade.
But oh alas, so long, so far,
         Our bodies why do we forbear?
They'are ours, though they'are not we; we are
         The intelligences, they the spheres.
We owe them thanks, because they thus
         Did us, to us, at first convey,
Yielded their senses' force to us,
         Nor are dross to us, but allay.
On man heaven's influence works not so,
         But that it first imprints the air;
So soul into the soul may flow,
            Though it to body first repair.
As our blood labors to beget
         Spirits, as like souls as it can,
Because such fingers need to knit
         That subtle knot which makes us man,
So must pure lovers' souls descend
         T' affections, and to faculties,
Which sense may reach and apprehend,
         Else a great prince in prison lies.
To'our bodies turn we then, that so
         Weak men on love reveal'd may look;
Love's mysteries in souls do grow,
         But yet the body is his book.
And if some lover, such as we,
         Have heard this dialogue of one,
Let him still mark us, he shall see
         Small change, when we'are to bodies gone.

"The Ecstasy" is a long and magnificent description of physical love and its inseparability from souls. (His later religious poetry was different.). It would be difficult to find any poet who more intensely depicted sensuality--as love and desire--than Donne. I have never seen any evidence in Eliot's poetry or prose that he knew, understood, or appreciated physical love until he married Valerie. That was like a revelation to him--something he had never known, either with Viv or as a self-proclaimed celibate. Indeed, in "Virgil and the Christian World," he claims, astonishingly, that one thing missing in the Aeneid is love. Yet Aeneas speaks of his great love for Dido, lives as her husband (and was in her eyes), reaches out to her in the Underworld and weeps over her refusal. Virgil certainly knew the power of human love and wrote of it. Eliot seems not to have understood it at all until Valerie. It is simply not present as sensual or passionate--except in inchoate longing--in the poetry--or distress in early letters, as when he tells Aiken about his desire rising up in the streets and being suppressed..

On Fri, Aug 3, 2018 at 1:05 PM Chanan Mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Dull sublunary lovers' love 
   (Whose soul is sense) cannot admit 
Absence, because it doth remove 
   Those things which elemented it. 

But we by a love so much refined, 
   That our selves know not what it is, 
Inter-assured of the mind, 
   Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss. 

Our two souls therefore, which are one, 
   Though I must go, endure not yet 
A breach, but an expansion, 
   Like gold to airy thinness beat. 


On Fri, Aug 3, 2018 at 12:24 PM Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Donne was writing of powerful sensual desire. Eliot is not. And in "La Figlia" the narrator is imagining abandoning the woman.

Donne understood profound human love.

On Fri, Aug 3, 2018 at 12:12 PM Chanan Mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Stand on the highest pavement of the stair—

- TS Eliot, LA FIGLIA 

On Fri, Aug 3, 2018 at 12:03 PM Chanan Mittal <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Not less of love, 
But expansion of love 
beyond desire. 

- TS Eliot

Our two souls therefore, which are one, 
   Though I must go, endure not yet 
A breach, but an expansion, 
   Like gold to airy thinness beat. 

- John Donne

Eliot from memory only.