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Comment 8 of 58, added on January 26th, 2006 at 1:24 PM.
No, no you've got it all wrong
Ok so Eliot was an elitist, yes we've established that. Ofcouse we can
research every allusion but we would be here for years. But poetry is
objective, you don't have to understand everyreference to understand the
poem. "I would meet you upon this honestly" Beatrice from the Changeling,
but does that change my conception of the poem? no.
Ellie from United Kingdom
Comment 7 of 58, added on November 11th, 2005 at 11:31 AM.
Millenium Hand and Shrimp, eh? Like many Eliot poems, the narrator feels
the approach of death. Like Prufrock, he feels himself a failure, dying in
a rented house. And like Foul Ole Ron, he rambles in a disconnected way.
Rustic? Rustication was considered a punishment; exile from the city.
Whatever he was once, now he's old and near goat merds. He's failed, and is
he expected to thank God for a fine life? As to using the quote, EVERYBODY
takes lines out of context from poor old Tom; help yourself.
baked scrod from United States
Comment 6 of 58, added on October 21st, 2005 at 11:41 AM.
The practice of allusion, justified in "Burbank" by the need to
characterize the tourist, performs in "Gerontion" the function of
condensing into decent compass a whole panorama of the past. If any notion
remained that in the poems of 1919 Eliot was sentimentally contrasting a
resplendent past with a dismal present, "Gerontion" should have helped to
dispel it. What are contrasted in this poem are the secular history of
Europe, which the life of Gerontion parallels, and the unregarded promise
of salvation through Christ. Gerontion symbolizes civilization gone rotten.
The mysterious foreign figures who rise shadow-like in his thoughts--Mr.
Silvero, Hakagawa, Madame de Tornquist, Fräulein von Kulp--are the
inheritors of desolation. Against them is set the "word within a word,
unable to speak a word"--the innocent Redeemer, swaddled now in the
darkness of the world. But Christ came not to send peace, but a sword; the
Panther of the bestiaries, luring the gentler beasts with His sweet breath
of doctrine, is also the Tiger of destruction. For the "juvescence of the
year," in which He came, marked the beginning of our dispensation, the
"depraved May" ever returning with the "flowering judas" of man's answer to
the Incarnation. And so "The tiger springs in the new year," devouring us
who have devoured Him. Furthermore, the tiger becomes now a symbol not only
of divine wrath but of the power of life within man, the springs of sex
which "murder and create." "Depraved May," the season of denial or
crucifixion, returns whenever, in whatever age, apostolic or modern, the
life of sense stirs without love. Eliot's The Family Reunion repeats the
horror: "Is the spring not an evil time, that excites us with lying
voices?" So now it returns and excites the memories of Gerontion. The
source of his grief--the passionate Cross, the poison tree, "the
wrath-bearing tree"--is both the crucifixion yew tree and the death tree of
the hanged traitor, a token of Christ and Iscariot, redemption and the
universal fall in Eden.
The futility of a world where men blunder down the blind corridors of
history, guided by vanity and gulled by success, asserting no power of
choice between good and evil but forced into alternatives they cannot
predict--this is the futility of a labyrinth without an end. Someone has
remarked that Eliot's obsessive image is the abyss. It is not: it is the
corridor, the blind street, the enclosure; the "circular desert" and "the
stone passages / Of an immense and empty hospital," imprisoning the
inconsolable heart. At the center is the physician, the Word, enveloped in
obscurity. But without is the abyss also, yawning for those who in their
twisted course have never found their center. "Gerontion" points no way
inward; it shows the outward, the eccentric propulsion of the damned, who,
as Chaucer says, echoing the Somnium Scipionis, "Shul whirle aboute
th'erthe alwey in peyne." Alone in his corner, having rested, unlike
Ulysses, from travel (and indeed having never taken the highways of the
earth), the old man sits while the wind sweeps his world "Beyond the
circuit of the shuddering Bear / In fractured atoms." The opposite
movement, which discloses "a door that opens at the end of a corridor,"
opening, as one reads in "Burnt Norton," "Into the rose garden" and "Into
our first world," leads to "the still point of the turning world," where,
as Eliot put it in Ash Wednesday, "the unstilled world still whirled /
About the centre of the silent Word." "Gerontion" describes only "the
unstilled world," the turning wheel, the hollow passages--not "the Garden /
Where all love ends," the ending of lust and the goal of love. The point at
which time ends and eternity begins, at which history disappears in unity
and the winding spiral vanished in the Word, is lost to the world of the
poem. Yet the Word exists; it is only history which cannot find Him,
history with a positivistic conception of the universe, a deterministic
view of causation, a pragmatic notion of morals. As Chesterton's Father
Brown remarks, "What we all dread most ... is a maze with no centre. That
is why atheism is only a nightmare." Eliot's symbol of the mazelike
passages, or the clocklike wheel of time, or the whirlwind of death, the
gaping whirlpool, is the antithesis of the single, unmoving, immutable
point within. History is the whirlwind, for history is of the world, and
history like the world destroys all that dares the test of matter and
From T.S. Eliot’s Poetry and Plays: A Study in Sources and Meaning.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1956.
Graciela Perillo from Argentina
Comment 5 of 58, added on September 12th, 2005 at 10:46 PM.
This poem seems very bad as well as a rustic creation by you.
Comment 4 of 58, added on July 18th, 2005 at 3:46 PM.
Eliot is speaking about the House of Judah.
Jay G from United States
Comment 3 of 58, added on November 29th, 2004 at 1:24 PM.
This poem can be easily understood if you can Decipher the many literary
references in the poem. If you can't the the whole thing just appears to be
a great big load of nonsense! The key to understanding this poem, is in the
last two lines, "tenants of the house, thoughts of a dry brain in a dry
season" which could mean two things A) "tenants" being those who inhabit
the house along with Gerontium, such as the foreigners, eg "madame de
B) "tenants" are the thoughts in gerontium's head, therefore explaining the
way he is looking back on his life, rather depressed.
I prefer option B myself!
from United States
Comment 2 of 58, added on September 28th, 2004 at 1:40 PM.
His poems are deep in thought and contains things that most people my age
and probubly older don't quite understand. The concepts aren't clear but
maybe it's just me!
Do not reccomened to young people1
from United States
Comment 1 of 58, added on September 8th, 2004 at 8:15 AM.
Apart from this is an old guy who rents a house from a landlord he doesn't
care for, and it's mutual, and getting old is for the birds, I do not get
what this is about. That's disappointing, because I came here to figure
out why at least two books are called "After such knowledge", and whether I
could use the quotation myself. I don't get it - is the whole thing an
extended speech of Foul Ole Ron's?
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