Monday, September 03, 2007

Marie, Marie hold on tight

Reading Ackroyd's biography I have been quite struck how odd a person T.S.Eliot really was. In many ways his beliefs and personality were actually much crazier than those of Yeats, and that is much said. He was forced to construct an iron cage of a philosophy, however absurd, literally to survive as a poet, as a person. One sees disintegration and chaos following on his footsteps, and a panicked flight away from them. Touch and go it was on the way, a desperate survival game but one that yielded such majestic, such odd poetry. Strange music. Now it is easy to see the response to the Waste Land as a significant historical phenomenon itself, so much of it surely unintended and unforeseen by the author: that badly shaken, wounded era demanded an artistic expression and would have gotten one in any case but Eliot's disjointed, apocalyptic language was uniquely suited those circumstances. In many ways violence was done to his art in the process, but I don't think that either, the poetry or its effect, diminish from the misunderstanding. Perhaps the opposite. Such a century to have.

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