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t.s. eliot

T.S. Eliot Tuesday

Back after a minor delay.

01:16 am, by hyphenandcomma2 notes

T.S. Eliot Tuesday
Sweeney Among the Nightingales

Apeneck Sweeney spreads his knees
Letting his arms hang down to laugh,
The zebra stripes along his jaw
Swelling to maculate giraffe.
The circles of the stormy moon
Slide westward toward the River Plate,
Death and the Raven drift above
And Sweeney guards the horned gate.
Gloomy Orion and the Dog
Are veiled; and hushed the shrunken seas;
The person in the Spanish cape
Tries to sit on Sweeney’s knees
Slips and pulls the table cloth
Overturns a coffee-cup,
Reorganized upon the floor
She yawns and draws a stocking up;
The silent man in mocha brown
Sprawls at the window-sill and gapes;
The waiter brings in oranges
Bananas figs and hothouse grapes;
The silent vertebrate in brown
Contracts and concentrates, withdraws;
Rachel née Rabinovitch
Tears at the grapes with murderous paws;
She and the lady in the cape
Are suspect, thought to be in league;
Therefore the man with heavy eyes
Declines the gambit, shows fatigue,
Leaves the room and reappears
Outside the window, leaning in,
Branches of wistaria
Circumscribe a golden grin;
The host with someone indistinct
Converses at the door apart,
The nightingales are singing near
The Convent of the Sacred Heart,
And sang within the bloody wood
When Agamemnon cried aloud,
And let their liquid droppings fall
To stain the stiff dishonoured shroud.

T.S. Eliot

09:40 am, by hyphenandcomma

T.S. Eliot Tuesday

Portrait of a Young Lady

Thou hast committed— Fornication: but that was in another country, And besides, the wench is dead. The Jew of Malta.


Among the smoke and fog of a December afternoon    
You have the scene arrange itself—as it will seem to do—    
With “I have saved this afternoon for you”;    
And four wax candles in the darkened room,    
Four rings of light upon the ceiling overhead,           
An atmosphere of Juliet’s tomb    
Prepared for all the things to be said, or left unsaid.    
We have been, let us say, to hear the latest Pole    
Transmit the Preludes, through his hair and fingertips.    
“So intimate, this Chopin, that I think his soul           
Should be resurrected only among friends    
Some two or three, who will not touch the bloom    
That is rubbed and questioned in the concert room.”    
—And so the conversation slips    
Among velleities and carefully caught regrets           
Through attenuated tones of violins    
Mingled with remote cornets    
And begins.    
“You do not know how much they mean to me, my friends,    
And how, how rare and strange it is, to find           
In a life composed so much, so much of odds and ends,    
[For indeed I do not love it … you knew? you are not blind!    
How keen you are!]    
To find a friend who has these qualities,    
Who has, and gives           
Those qualities upon which friendship lives.    
How much it means that I say this to you—    
Without these friendships—life, what cauchemar!”    
Among the windings of the violins    
And the ariettes           
Of cracked cornets    
Inside my brain a dull tom-tom begins    
Absurdly hammering a prelude of its own,    
Capricious monotone    
That is at least one definite “false note.”           
—Let us take the air, in a tobacco trance,    
Admire the monuments,    
Discuss the late events,    
Correct our watches by the public clocks.    
Then sit for half an hour and drink our bocks.           

Now that lilacs are in bloom    
She has a bowl of lilacs in her room    
And twists one in his fingers while she talks.    
“Ah, my friend, you do not know, you do not know    
What life is, you who hold it in your hands”;           
(Slowly twisting the lilac stalks)    
“You let it flow from you, you let it flow,    
And youth is cruel, and has no remorse    
And smiles at situations which it cannot see.”    
I smile, of course,           
And go on drinking tea.    
“Yet with these April sunsets, that somehow recall    
My buried life, and Paris in the Spring,    
I feel immeasurably at peace, and find the world    
To be wonderful and youthful, after all.”           
The voice returns like the insistent out-of-tune    
Of a broken violin on an August afternoon:    
“I am always sure that you understand    
My feelings, always sure that you feel,    
Sure that across the gulf you reach your hand.           
You are invulnerable, you have no Achilles’ heel.    
You will go on, and when you have prevailed    
You can say: at this point many a one has failed.    
But what have I, but what have I, my friend,    
To give you, what can you receive from me?           
Only the friendship and the sympathy    
Of one about to reach her journey’s end.    
I shall sit here, serving tea to friends….”    
I take my hat: how can I make a cowardly amends    
For what she has said to me?           
You will see me any morning in the park    
Reading the comics and the sporting page.    
Particularly I remark    
An English countess goes upon the stage.    
A Greek was murdered at a Polish dance,           
Another bank defaulter has confessed.    
I keep my countenance,    
I remain self-possessed    
Except when a street piano, mechanical and tired    
Reiterates some worn-out common song           
With the smell of hyacinths across the garden    
Recalling things that other people have desired.    
Are these ideas right or wrong?    

The October night comes down; returning as before    
Except for a slight sensation of being ill at ease           
I mount the stairs and turn the handle of the door    
And feel as if I had mounted on my hands and knees.    
“And so you are going abroad; and when do you return?    
But that’s a useless question.    
You hardly know when you are coming back,           
You will find so much to learn.”    
My smile falls heavily among the bric-à-brac.    
“Perhaps you can write to me.”    
My self-possession flares up for a second;    
This is as I had reckoned.           
“I have been wondering frequently of late    
(But our beginnings never know our ends!)    
Why we have not developed into friends.”    
I feel like one who smiles, and turning shall remark    
Suddenly, his expression in a glass.           
My self-possession gutters; we are really in the dark.    
“For everybody said so, all our friends,    
They all were sure our feelings would relate    
So closely! I myself can hardly understand.    
We must leave it now to fate.           
You will write, at any rate.    
Perhaps it is not too late.    
I shall sit here, serving tea to friends.”    
And I must borrow every changing shape    
To find expression … dance, dance           
Like a dancing bear,    
Cry like a parrot, chatter like an ape.    
Let us take the air, in a tobacco trance—    
Well! and what if she should die some afternoon,    
Afternoon grey and smoky, evening yellow and rose;           
Should die and leave me sitting pen in hand    
With the smoke coming down above the housetops;    
Doubtful, for a while    
Not knowing what to feel or if I understand    
Or whether wise or foolish, tardy or too soon…           
Would she not have the advantage, after all?    
This music is successful with a “dying fall”    
Now that we talk of dying—    
And should I have the right to smile?

T.S. Eliot

09:28 pm, by hyphenandcomma

09:49 pm, by hyphenandcomma

T.S. Eliot Tuesday

I’m always pleasantly surprised when I find that someone actually reads this. Without further adieu I bring you:

Rhapsody On A Windy Night

Twelve o’clock.
Along the reaches of the street
Held in a lunar synthesis,
Whispering lunar incantations
Dissolve the floors of memory
And all its clear relations,
Its divisions and precisions,
Every street lamp that I pass
Beats like a fatalistic drum,
And through the spaces of the dark
Midnight shakes the memory
As a madman shakes a dead geranium.
Half-past one,
The street lamp sputtered,
The street lamp muttered,
The street lamp said, “Regard that woman
Who hesitates towards you in the light of the door
Which opens on her like a grin.
You see the border of her dress
Is torn and stained with sand,
And you see the corner of her eye
Twists like a crooked pin.”
The memory throws up high and dry
A crowd of twisted things;
A twisted branch upon the beach
Eaten smooth, and polished
As if the world gave up
The secret of its skeleton,
Stiff and white.
A broken spring in a factory yard,
Rust that clings to the form that the strength has left
Hard and curled and ready to snap.
Half-past two,
The street lamp said,
"Remark the cat which flattens itself in the gutter,
Slips out its tongue
And devours a morsel of rancid butter.”
So the hand of a child, automatic,
Slipped out and pocketed a toy that was running along the quay.
I could see nothing behind that child’s eye.
I have seen eyes in the street
Trying to peer through lighted shutters,
And a crab one afternoon in a pool,
An old crab with barnacles on his back,
Gripped the end of a stick which I held him.
Half-past three,
The lamp sputtered,
The lamp muttered in the dark.
The lamp hummed:
"Regard the moon,
La lune ne garde aucune rancune,
She winks a feeble eye,
She smiles into corners.
She smoothes the hair of the grass.
The moon has lost her memory.
A washed-out smallpox cracks her face,
Her hand twists a paper rose,
That smells of dust and old Cologne,
She is alone
With all the old nocturnal smells
That cross and cross across her brain.”
The reminiscence comes
Of sunless dry geraniums
And dust in crevices,
Smells of chestnuts in the streets,
And female smells in shuttered rooms,
And cigarettes in corridors
And cocktail smells in bars.”
The lamp said,
"Four o’clock,
Here is the number on the door.
You have the key,
The little lamp spreads a ring on the stair,
The bed is open; the tooth-brush hangs on the wall,
Put your shoes at the door, sleep, prepare for life.”
The last twist of the knife.

-T.S. Eliot

08:59 pm, by hyphenandcomma

T.S. Eliot Tuesday

Although I can appreciate the sentiment of Gavin Rosdale paying homage to T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men”, I really do wonder what relevancy this song has to “The Hollow Men”. Oh, the pseudo-intellectualism of the late 90’s, how I really don’t miss thee. I guess at best It’s a clever play on structure and words, maybe.

10:47 am, by hyphenandcomma

T.S. Eliot Tuesday

Excerpt from Quartet No. 4: Little Gidding


What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
The common word exact without vulgarity,
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together)
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph. And any action
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea’s throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.
We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them.
The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree
Are of equal duration. A people without history
Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
Of timeless moments. So, while the light fails
On a winter’s afternoon, in a secluded chapel
History is now and England.

With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
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


02:59 pm, by hyphenandcomma

T.S. Eliot Tuesday

Morning at the Window

They are rattling breakfast plates in basement kitchens,
And along the trampled edges of the street
I am aware of the damp souls of housemaids
Sprouting despondently at area gates.

The brown waves of fog toss up to me
Twisted faces from the bottom of the street,
And tear from a passer-by with muddy skirts
An aimless smile that hovers in the air
And vanishes along the level of the roofs.

T.S. Eliot

Photograph by: Yasmine Chatila

05:10 pm, by hyphenandcomma3 notes

T.S. Eliot Tuesday

Dead Poets’ Society

Relationships among poets are about much more than anxiety

Under the Sign of Friendship 1

Jon Krause for The Chronicle Review

Poetry is conversation, and poets like to sit at an imaginary table, agreeing with what was said by other poets, chafing at their arguments, avoiding or responding (directly or indirectly) to their assertions. This conversation is the stuff of culture, and without the rough-and-tumble of what scholars often loosely call “influence,” there would be no poetry.

There is a further layer here, contained in a phrase from T.S. Eliot, “under the sign,” that Christopher Ricks—critic, poet, and professor of humanities at Boston University, to say nothing of one of the finest readers of poetry in our time—uses in his new book, True Friendship: Geoffrey Hill, Anthony Hecht, and Robert Lowell Under the Sign of Eliot and Pound (Yale University Press). Eliot used the suggestive phrase in a letter, saying that four poems in his earliest collection were written "sous le signe de Laforgue"; what that means, I suspect, is that Eliot felt conscious of Laforgue’s presence while writing those poems. He felt the sway of his precursor, his guiding intellect, a certain dry ironic tone that he found useful in his own verse at the moment of writing.”


07:20 pm, by hyphenandcomma

T.S. Eliot Tuesday

Hollow Men as read by Colonel Kurtz played by Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now

08:21 am, by hyphenandcomma