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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.

N

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.
>
> CR
>
> 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..
>> Nancy
>>
>>
>> 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.
>>>
>>> - John Donne, A VALEDICTION FORBIDDING MOURNING
>>>
>>> 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.
>>>> Nancy
>>>>
>>>> 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.
>>>>>> CR
>>>>>>
>>>>>>