Eliot's Reflective Journey to the Garden

Eliot's Reflective Journey to the Garden

Eliot's Reflective Journey to the Garden

Eliot's Reflective Journey to the Garden

Synopsis

"Eliot's Reflective Journey to the Garden is precisely what its author intended¿a subtle and provocative essay on Eliot for scholars and cultivated readers."¿FAITH AND REASON

Excerpt

"Then Eliot caught religion," the student paper says. "The sow caught the measles and she died," I respond. From what did he catch it, how long a period of incubation, is it the last infirmity a poet is subject to? Those are the interesting questions. This book attempts some answer to those questions. It is about Eliot's mind, as any serious book about him must of necessity be. We shall be concerned with the conditions and circumstances of his life, with the personal, which must refer somewhat to the surface spectacle of Eliot's life-his routine labor at Lloyd's Bank, his difficult first marriage, his "nervous breakdown" which led him in a flight toward recovery at Lausanne, where most of The Waste Land was composed. But our concern will be to distinguish the surface spectacle of his circumstances from the deeper event of which The Waste Land is a record, the major symptoms of Christianity he was "catching."

In one view of Eliot's symptoms, he may be said to have exhibited its pains and agues from very early. At the turn of the century, poets like Eliot and Pound found themselves in strong reaction to contemporary poetry in English, and the consequence was that they began to take words seriously. Inevitably when one does so, he becomes entangled in metaphysical problems, for he must attempt to reconcile words to existence. In the wake of the struggle for a concept of reality which would sustain and justify that act of refinement and elevation of language which we call poetry, the "schools" began to emerge, choosing names for themselves that advertise their solution of the word's relation to the desert each found himself an inhabitant of: imagist, vorticist, objectivist. Pound on many occasions in the early days attempted to recruit Eliot to a movement. Yet one does not find Eliot in the ranks of any particular school. His attempt to find "the word neither diffident nor ostentatious," through which to establish "an easy commerce of the old . . .

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