The Dry Salvages: T. S. Eliot in Wordsworthian waters.
Such remarks, though they mainly predate the Four Quartets, played their part in its reception. One reviewer, while allowing that the four poems were not in the least Wordsworthian, insisted that they were the "best poetry of their kind" since The Prelude, explaining that they too were a study in the "growth of a poet's mind." (9) This last notion was taken up by Helen Gardner--again in relation to The Prelude--in a seminal piece of 1949, (10) by which time Wordsworth figured as a precursor of Eliot as a religious poet also. In a review of the first three quartets in Theology, he is linked to Eliot by Muriel Bradbrook through his concern with "the flash of insight" into eternity. (11) And Auden, in a retrospect written shortly after Eliots death, attributes the inspiration of both poets to the power of "a few intensely visionary experiences, which probably occurred quite early in life." (12)
Sparing though he was with the epithet great (denied to Donne, Coleridge, Laforgue, even to Herbert), (13) Eliot applied the term to Wordsworth liberally and without prevarication. In The Use of Poetry (1933), the volume in which he most fully engaged with the romantics, his last word on the poet occurs as an afterthought in a discussion of Shelley, and is pitched somewhere between homage and an appeal for critique: "there is something integral about such greatness, and something significant in his place in the pattern of history, with which we have to reckon." This send-off was later to form the conclusion to a piece headed "Wordsworth" when republished at the start of 1941. (14) The Dry Salvages appeared in February of the same year, and there is surely no poem by Eliot that comes closer to offering a reckoning with the poetic realm constituted by The Prelude than this quartet. While it shares with the other three a general concern with personal history in relation to place, and similarly combines philosophical reflection with a record of religious feeling, its engagement with the landscape of childhood and of adolescence is especially explicit. It has been seen as the work, moreover, in which Eliot makes his nearest approach to romanticism, one critic notoriously detecting a fundamental betrayal of the founding principles of modernism in both its style and content, a reversion to "something presymbolist and old-fashioned." (15)
There is reason to suppose, indeed, that Wordsworth was especially on Eliots mind when he composed The Dry Salvages. Five weeks before completing a first draft of the poem, he broadcast a conversation with Desmond Hawkins, "The Writer as Artist," in which he stressed the crucial interdependence of culture and the creative use of language. (16) Much of what he has to say there relates to those meditations on the use of words which he placed at the start of the fifth part of each quartet. So his insistence on the need for a perpetual renewal of idiom to stave off deterioration harks back to East Coker, while his concern with refining the received language looks forward to Little Gidding. But the interview is haunted by a third ghost in the form of Wordsworth's famous Preface, evident not only in the regenerative role allotted throughout to the poets "selection" from colloquial speech, but in an overarching concern with the insidiousness of cultural decline, an aspect taken up in the fifth part of The Dry Salvages where popular divination and the yellow press ("To communicate with Mars, converse with spirits ...") (17) equate with the literature of "extraordinary incident" decried as a drug by Wordsworth in his Preface. In connection with the BBC interview, Richard Badenhausen has persuasively argued that Eliots understanding of the artists function in society underwent a significant shift in the early 1940s "towards a more Romantic-based model," and that Wordsworths Preface became a crucial document for him at this period. (18) Where Eliot had formerly engaged with specific issues such as the central place accorded to recollection in Wordsworth's theory of poetic inspiration--and welcomed, one might add, the politically radical tendencies implicit in his decrees on poetic diction--the new emphasis fell on the poet as a maker, the cultural instigator, in collaboration with other disciplined users of language, of a "common national consciousness." (19) Later in the decade Eliot commented, with regard to himself and Wordsworth, on how young poets devoted to revolution had no choice, at the time, but to exalt the merits of their appointed gods at the cost of disparaging those who embodied merits of a quite different sort. (20) Once the tide of modernism had withdrawn, and the smokescreen of manifesto with it, Eliot was quick to realize that he faced a challengingly transformed scene. His choice of a passage from the first book of The Prelude ("One summer evening ...") to open the reading that was broadcast on the same night and under the same title as his interview, suggests a change of tack. (21)
One of the most original of Eliot's many contributions to literary theory was his postulation in "Tradition and the Individual Talent" of a space in which the whole of literature, past and present, has "a simultaneous existence." (22) Comparison across this space not only enhances the perceived identity of particular works but also plays an important part in generating their significance and meaning. As Eliot saw the matter, relationships in this open field subsist independently of any question of influence--so much is clear when he argues that the mutual bearing of older works on each other can be altered by the creation of a new work. Genealogies of influence enter the picture, nonetheless, insofar as they provide a guide to the "historical sense" of a particular poet, a horizon of acquaintance that is bound to be relative. A comparison of Eliot with his great forbear cries out to be conducted primarily in the terms of his groundbreaking notion of an open field, but possible lines of direct influence will also be traced here for the sake of record. I shall argue that Eliots involvement with the premodern in The Dry Salvages is as critical as one would expect of a writer so very distinctive in outlook and character, but that his wrangling with received conventions in this quartet has now to be viewed from a standpoint that makes his own latterly reformed classicism seem no closer to us than Wordsworth's romanticism. Mindful of his own declared distrust of these broad terms, (23) I aim to keep my discussion as concrete as possible.
Eliot was aware when he composed The Dry Salvages that it would be read as a sequel to East Coker, and the closing part of the second quartet not only prepares the reader for a return to origins and global waterways ("Home is where one starts from ...") but opens a vista also on what he presents as a lean creative season:
So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years--Twenty years largely wasted, the years of Ventre deux guerres--Trying to learn to use words, and every attempt Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure ... (5, p. 21)
The seed-time of poetic consciousness is at hand when Eliots opening portrayal of the demeaned but irrepressibly hostile Mississippi as a "strong brown god"--couched, as Christopher Ricks has pointed out, in the form of an "off-form" sonnet (24)--comes to rest on a quatrain disarmed of rhyme:
His rhythm was present in the nursery bedroom, In the rank ailanthus of the April dooryard, In the smell of grapes on the autumn table, And the evening circle in the winter gaslight. (1, p. 25)
The Whitmanesque spring-bloom in the dooryard (with its silent counter-pointing of rank ailanthus against lilac)--a late textual addition (25)--gives a top dressing of stark local color to a deep, if less obtrusive substrate:
Was it for this, That one, the fairest of all rivers, loved To blend his murmurs with my nurses song, And from his alder shades and rocky falls, And from his fords and shallows, sent a voice That flowed along my dreams? (26) (269-74)
Prompted by the anguished sense that his inspiration is blocked and that he is "unprofitably travelling towards the grave," Wordsworth's question takes the form of a tribute to his earliest tie with nature--the sound of the river Derwent as it ran past the back garden at his birthplace in Cockermouth. Eliot's lines share the masculine possessive pronoun for the river, and his phrase "the nursery bedroom" goes some way to reviving the river-braided nurse's song that enters Wordsworth's dreams. While the staple iambic pentameter of The Prelude suggests, when checked and speeded by enjambment (as at lines 270 and 273), the partly irregular flow of water and song, it also enables an easy transition from "murmur" to "ceaseless music" and to "steady cadence"--to an image of poetry that is both inward and external--in the lines that immediately follow. So Wordsworth contrives, in accounting for his inspiration, to create a realm that is neither wholly natural nor imaginary without at any point losing touch with the physical scene. Eliots "rhythm" demonstrated in the switch to the shorter end-stopped lines of his blank quatrain suggests, semantically at least, something less comprehensive. The "rhythm" that is present to the eyes (the evening circle under gaslight) and to the nose (the ailanthus bloom and grapes) exists as an abstraction rather than as any immediately traceable effect of the river. Artifice asserts its dominion over the quatrain in the emblematic parade of seasons, in the metonymic quality that attaches to the objects salvaged from memory, in the deliberately urban setting that is epitomized by a still life, and surveyed finally--under artificial lighting--from a standpoint outside the unbroken "evening circle." In contrast to his depiction of a river god animated with wild intent, and contrary to Wordsworths celebration of a harmony rooted in nature, Eliot presents a poetic consciousness that is detached and Apollonian. Donald Davie was surely wide of the mark when he singled out these lines as evidence of Eliots surrender to the romantic shibboleth of "identification with some inhuman process." (27) The concord they suggest is free of egotism, but uncomfortably alert to the proximity of trauma. (28)
Despite Eliot's gesture of restraint the thought-river motif reveals a stubborn power, and--true to the canard that reaction is a symptom of romanticism itself--Eliot develops the metaphor in the line that opens his next paragraph, "The river is within us, the sea is all about us," laying down, therewith, a foundation for the structure that follows. The sea recurs in The Prelude, similarly, as a counter both for the physical world and for long perspectives into time. Feeding into the ocean, the Derwent gives rise to a train of river imagery that includes the river as a symbol of the individual life, particularly of the conscious self. Such uses vary in the poem from explicit stapling ("the river of my mind"), and prolonged analogy ("we have traced the stream ... followed it ... given it greeting"), to more elaborate kinds of figuration--witness the "voice of mountain torrents" that carries far into the Boy of Winander' heart, or the subtle animation of "I sauntered like a river murmuring / And talking to itself." (29) So, too, the third of the "Lucy Poems"--a sequence assigned by Eliot to Wordsworths best period (30)--delicately reworks the sonorous lines on the all-pervading murmurs of the Derwent (lines that originally opened the "Two-Part Prelude" that was composed at the same time):
and she shall lean her ear In many a secret place Where rivulets dance their wayward round, And beauty born of murmuring sound Shall pass into her face. (31)
Eliot was also certainly aware of the Cockermouth passage, for it provided the heading and much of the substance of the second chapter of his friend Herbert Read's "excellent" (if dry) book on Wordsworth, which he read in proof in 1930 and recalled long after its publication. (32) Read introduced his extensive quotation from the lines in question with the comment:
[Wordsworth makes] very definite claims for the formative influences of nature on the unfolding mind of the child. Even as a babe in arms these forces were at work, for did not the River Derwent that flowed past his home at Cockermouth "Make ceaseless music ..." (33)
It was to Read, moreover, that Eliot confided in 1932 that he planned a book of essays about his formative years to be entitled The River and the Sea. (34) With the exception of his remark that he could not think of St. Louis without seeing a basket of "Concord grapes on the table," (35) and his nostalgic evocation of the ailanthus and "long dark river" in his preface to Edgar Mowrer's This American World (1928), the often-gleaned autobiographical offerings that chime significantly with the river section in Dry Salvages derive from this period or later. Conspicuous among them is the statement that the Mississippi "affected me more deeply than any other environment has done ... there is something in having passed one's childhood beside the big river which is incommunicable to those who have not." (36) Commenting, in a preface, on the setting of Huckleberry Finn, he posed a variety of theism known only to the communicable: "Mark Twain is a native, and the River God is his God." (37) Eliot's more rapturous tributes to his birthplace coincide, naturally enough, with his moments of physical return as a native, but his feelings for this home setting were as complex as his attitudes towards the "primitive" (in the poem's term) to which they seem related. In choosing to speak of the "rhythm" of the great river in Dry Salvages he brings to mind his many remarks on the way poetic creation frequently--even typically--begins as a musical stimulus, discovering itself through a "particular rhythm," a "rhythm [that] may bring to birth the idea and the image." (38) Indeed, his more general remarks on this stimulus look forward to his poetic embodiment of the river god who exerts a profound presence despite being "almost forgotten":
What I call the "auditory imagination" is the feeling for syllable and rhythm, penetrating far below the conscious levels of thought and feeling, invigorating every word; sinking to the most primitive and forgotten, returning to the origin and bringing something back, seeking the beginning and the end. (39)
Yet for Eliot, poetically speaking, the end is not wholly in the beginning, nor the beginning in the end. Between the flowering of his inspiration and its source there runs, it seems, a fissure. On the one hand, the opening lines of The Dry Salvages elicit a reverence for the "strong brown god," and deplore the machine-worship that has led to disrespect of his image. On the other hand, the god is the object of conjecture rather than belief, and treated to a distance that suggests he belongs among those strange gods from whom it is best to be estranged. A comparison here with a contrastive strand of Wordsworths metaphor may help to illuminate this apparent paradox.
Through the eyes of critics like Emile Legouis, Wordsworth was widely seen in the opening decades of the twentieth century as a writer who owed his celebration of the natural world to a happily blinkered view of nature. Eliot had sided with this misprision at times, and may well have been familiar with the purple passage in which Legouis develops a striking analogy for the theory of education that he attributed to Wordsworth:
The running stream in which he loves to find an image of human life was a symbol well adapted to confirm him in the principle of non-interference ... he would have mourned over any attempt to straighten the windings of the Duddon or Derwent. Because yonder spring, which gushes from the mountain side, offends your taste for the rectilinear by the vagaries of its course, you would control it, and render it navigable from its very source. Well and good; yet beware lest, once confined to an inflexible course, it no longer wears its old capricious beauty ... It will enter with less of impetuous energy on its long journey across the plains which await it ... its once rapid current will sooner become sluggish and then stagnant. (40)
Legouis offers no text for his rhapsody, but Wordsworth certainly supplies some hints towards it when he pillories those who want to proscribe the childhood reading of romance,
These mighty workmen of our later age. Who with a broad highway have overbridged The froward chaos of futurity, Tamed to their bidding-- (5.370-3)
Or when he complains earlier of the constraints imposed on him by the curriculum at Cambridge, where he
could have wished The river to have had an ampler range And freer pace. (3.508-10)
Each of these metaphorical figurations of release draws on the opening scene in which he relishes the confident fulfilment of impulse, realized in his "one long bathing of a summer's day" (1.294) as a five-year-old along the Derwent:
as if I had been born On Indian planes, and from my mothers hut Had run abroad in wantonness to sport, A naked savage, in the thunder shower. (1.301-04)
This exuberantly physical recovery of the repressed transports the poet to a landscape more compliant than Eliot's Middle West. Both less and more than a native, Eliot had cause to distrust what he characterized as an English preoccupation with the "religion of the blue sky, the grass and flowers," (41) and cause to assert the constant "power and terror of nature" manifest in the Mississippi ever since witnessing the devastation it had brought to the city of his birth in the spring of 1896. (42) In The Dry Salvages, the river poses a threat to human order in both its physical and psychological aspects. Its watchful malevolence, as well as the dark forces that it represents "within us," are to be kept at bay, but to be met with a full regard, nevertheless. Eliot gives his reasons for this in The Idea of a Christian Society (1939) when he insists on the necessity of recognizing original sin, and argues that, in a postindustrial society particularly, a too benign (or "wrong") attitude towards nature implies a "wrong attitude towards God": "We need to recover the sense of religious fear so that it may be overcome by religious hope." (43) Desecration of the irrational leads to a general irreverence.
It is virtually a premise of The Prelude that the "I" who so actively peoples the poem's many settings undergoes a progressive development, gaining from reverses and growing in inclusiveness. The move from Cockermouth to Hawkshead--which corresponds biographically to Wordsworth's upheaval and relocation after his mother's death at the age of nine--is effected without any hint of discontinuity: the native of Cumberland becomes evermore native. One of the more humble functions of Eliot's gnomic line, "The river is within us, the sea is all about us," is to prepare for a scene change from the Mississippi and its environs to the East coast, and specifically to the Dry Salvages, the treacherous rocks lying far out to sea beyond Cape Ann, so that the poem's sequence reflects, in this respect, the poet's early life. Elsewhere Eliot attempted, in some personal reflections on his American roots, to disentangle the complex knot of local ties that resulted from a childhood divided between Missouri and New England, and from his move to the latter at the age of sixteen. He concludes, in his sketch of 1928, that it is not the absence of roots but rather their division that causes him to feel at home neither in one place or the other. (44) And this is the paradox he explores further in his essay on Kipling, produced shortly after Dry Salvages, where he seizes on the life of a writer who--as an infant and hard-working adolescent in India--developed strong sympathies both within and without the Raj before refinding himself in Britain. Kipling's work consequently issues from distinct "strata," so that his career presents a series of "mutations" rather than a single progress, and his deracination is taken to be the source of an uncanny gift:
What life would have made of such a man, had his birth, growth, maturity and age all taken place in one set of surroundings, is beyond speculation: as life directed, the result was to give him a peculiar detachment and remoteness from all environment .. a remoteness as of an alarmingly intelligent visitor from another planet. (45)
Eliot returns here to his long-nurtured idea that a fragmentation of personality can be a boon to the writer. So Dostoevsky, too, is upheld as a novelist whose psychological "defects" provide the gateway to a richer "world that we cannot perceive." (46) While a return to roots may be remedial in specific cultural circumstance, some fundamental dislocation from the natural world retains the status of a metaphysical imperative for Eliot, since it allows for entrance to that coexisting otherworldly realm in which he had come to believe.
The "sea" into which the first verse paragraph of The Dry Salvages issues stands for all that surrounds the individual life, for everything "about us" in space or time. But despite the stage being set for a poetic affirmation of the oceanic feeling, in part by the Derwent-like omnipresence of the river-god, and in part by the Whitmanesque echoes in the lines above, the focus is exact, and its objects resolutely discrete and alien:
The sea is the land's edge also, the granite Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses Its hints of earlier and other creation: The starfish, the horseshoe crab, the whale's backbone; The pools where it offers to our curiosity The more delicate algae and the sea anemone. (1, pp. 25-26)
Even without the later caveat against "superficial notions of evolution," no reader would dream of connecting the crab to the animal included in its name, and the only mammal figuring in the list is outlandish in both life and death. Christopher Ricks has pointed to the way the partial seclusion of the pool is felt through the self-enclosed though dependant syntax of the final half-rhyming couplet, and also to Eliots fascination with the anemones subject-centered world. (47) At least one commentator, however, has been led by the evocative power of the sea ("obsessive symbol"!) to ignore the fine differentiation in these beautiful lines, and to accuse Eliot of having "fallen into the trap of ecstatic merging with process." (48) The sea anemone first surfaces in Eliot's published work in the essay "Wordsworth and Coleridge" (1932) where it provides an illustration of how poets draw not only on a huge corpus of literature in the fashion Lowes had demonstrated in his Road to Xanadu which they "magnetise" in their own way, but equally on an enduring stock of personal memories. (49) A sensitivity to that particular magnetic field set up by the romantic motifs in the opening section of Dry Salvages throws Eliots own contrary impulses into sharp and all the more unmistakable relief. The sea into which the Derwent passage effectively finds outlet at the climax of the second book of The Prelude, rounding off the opening theme of "Childhood and School-time," becomes a metaphoric vehicle for Coleridge's favored notion of the "one life": "I at this time / Saw blessings spread about me like a sea" (2.413-14). Nagging doubt, as expressed in the opening motif--"Was it for this?"--is assuaged by a revelation of unity that brings with it the assurance of vocation:
I was only then Contented when with bliss ineffable I felt the sentiment of being spread O'er all that moves, and all that seemeth still, O'er all that, lost beyond the reach of thought And human knowledge, to the human eye Invisible, yet liveth to the heart, O'er all that leaps, and runs, and shouts, and sings, Or beats the gladsome air, o'er all that glides Beneath the wave, yea, in the wave itself And mighty depth of waters. Wonder not If such my transports were, for in all things I saw one life, and felt that it was joy; One song they sang .. (2.418-31)
It is a drawback perhaps of Wordsworth's fondness for the figural use of "sea" (viz. the force that "did make / The surface of the universal earth ... Work like a sea") that he has at times to fall back on formulations such as "the sea, the real sea" (1.498-501; 13.49). But the shift in these lines from the dominating metaphor "sea" for the totality of creation, to the metonymic "wave" for ocean, to "yea in the wave itself" is inspired, uniquely appropriate, as it is, to the monistic belief that all exists in each, and each in all. Wordsworth brings great resourcefulness to bear on the idea that every individual entity participates in an all-encompassing being, which--whether projected or perceived--has the status, he protests, of a truth. In contrast to Eliot's syntax which consists of a single predicate ("The sea is ...") which picks its way from one object to another, continuing the work of enumeration despite the mild check of two adjectival clauses that preserve the original subject ("where it tosses," "where it offers"), Wordsworth's sentences are strongly hypotactic, inherently expressive of a seamless interconnectivity. All the naming in his catalogue is subjugated to the opening "I was ..." and the "I" is made pervasive by a series of interspersed references to perception ("sentiment," "thought," "knowledge," "eye") and by a relative clause that loops back to the subject ("yet liveth to the heart"). The feeling of an irrepressible lifeforce, instinct in every sphere of creation, is roused by a thrilling series of kinetic verbs (leaps, runs, shouts, sings, beats, glides) all in syntactic parallel, and all branching from the repeated "o'er all." Indeed the anaphoric use of this phrase provides a concrete demonstration of the principle of unity within diversity, and this in conjunction with the psalm-ike diction of the passage, gives substance to the declaration of a universal unison, "One song they sang."
With pointed emphasis Eliot ends his paragraph on a firm rebuttal of such monistic accord: "The sea has many voices, / Many gods and many voices." And though this summation seems momentarily challenged by a hint of the oceans immanence given in the lines that immediately follow (interjected as though for another voice), the images of both land and sea ("The salt is on the briar rose, / The fog is in the fir trees") remain separate, an impression reinforced by the underlying device of collage. Eliot continues, in the next paragraph, with a depiction of the sea as a site of manifold powers, conflicting and productive of loss, the stark visual imagery of the torn net and broken oar now giving place to a seascape that is almost exclusively auditory. The structure of this magnificently controlled composition is insidiously simple: a list of sea voices finely distinguished by poetic texture, but arranged in the form of a "mere sequence" to suggest the domain of the aleatory. So "howl," "yelp," and "whine" render the combined or disjoint action of ocean and wind as subhuman expressions of pain. Breaking waves are scored by the localism "rote" in tow with "granite teeth" and by the onomatopoeic resolution performed in the pairing "menace and caress." Sounds of warning are shaken out by three sorts of floating buoy--the bell, the whistling, and the groaner. But when Eliot at last introduces a human dimension to this desolate scene, it is not through the consciousness of a seafarer, but through that of the "anxious worried women" who live on the shore in a state of passive apprehension, a state consummated only by the shock of death and its vista of emptiness:
before the morning watch When time stops and time is never ending; And the ground swell, that is and was from the beginning, Clangs The bell. (1, p. 26)
Eliot draws us away, finally, from the shore to an unpeopled primeval world registered through an appeal to what he understood to be the deepest of sensory resources. There the single--and spatially isolated--strike of the bell provides an auditory analogue to the experience of time's arrest, while the endless duration of the seas "caress" is sustained phonetically in the negation "future futureless." A series of cognate cancellations (trope not unWordsworthian!) supplies the rhyming words for the third line of each stave of the sestina that follows, pressing the enactment of annihilation even further. The series includes "emotionless," "devotionless," "erosionless," as well as the even more unearthly "oceanless."
The sestina (2) opens with the question "Where is there an end of it, the soundless wailing ...?," to which an explicit answer returns, "There is no end, but addition." But the form of the verse--a scheme that becomes evident only in retrospect on the return of the rhymes--returns an implicit answer of another kind, one that is spelt out immediately after the closing lines: "It seems, as one becomes older, / That the past has another pattern, and ceases to be a mere sequence." (50) It is again through emblematic means that Eliot invokes, for the first time in this quartet, a supernatural order that "intersects" in the poem's term with the plane of its realism. As has often been noticed the word "annunciation" which has been linked throughout with the report of death asserts its Christian sense--with the assumption of a capital--on its third and final return as the ultimate word of the sestina. Reversing, too, the "unprayable" prayer of the first stanza, the "prayable" prayer in the same rhyming position of the last (with its reminder that in poetry no cancellation of the form "x-less" or "un-x" can ever be complete) looks forward to the later prayer to Mary (4) with its transfiguring reprise of the clanging buoy in the "sound of the sea bell's / Perpetual angelus."
Eliot's sustained attention to nature in The Dry Salvages is unique in his work, and few would deny that the poem's passages on the sea are among his finest. But the nature he represents there is tactically filtered, selected one might say to "assert the necessity" of belief in higher things, as Eliot once remarked of Baudelaire. (51) And since it is made to subserve an end that is conceived as transcendent rather than immanent, it enjoys an uneasy relationship with realism. For this reason the contact with Wordsworth at the opening of the poem is both affirmative and admonitory, a reminder of the formative influence of nature on the poet, and at the same time a signpost to a path resolutely refused. Eliot wrote at a period when he could rely on his reader's responsiveness to the latter signal. Emile Legouis's celebration of a poet who had the good fortune to live in a district that enabled him to interpret nature as benign ("the happy result of narrowness of vision") (52) had made way for the influential and more radical critique of Aldous Huxley who in his essay, "Wordsworth and the Tropics," made brilliant fun of pantheism tout court while passing off the Lake poet as another Dr. Pangloss. Eliots religious beliefs were emphatically not of the sort that could embrace Wordsworths view that nature's creatures "Were all like workings of one mind, the features / Of the same face, blossoms upon one tree" (6.568-69). From the heaving ground swell off New England even Eliots "many gods" seem to have absconded. His broad reaction against Romanticism found vent in numerous acid asides directed at monism in particular--hence his dismissal of "life-forcers," branding of Spinozism as a heresy, scorn for Whitman's "clap-trap," and equation of totalitarianism with a return to the womb. (53) Unsurprisingly Wordsworths "philosophy" is handled with a noticeably long pair of forceps in the essay on Arnold, and Keats applauded in the same volume for remarking on the complacency revealed by a poem like "Gipsies." (54) Yet Eliot's occasional abrasiveness is outweighed by his insistence that Wordsworth initiated a "profound spiritual revival" that inspired Pusey and Newman, (55) and by a ubiquitous stress on his humane and social concerns. A poem that particularly caught his attention in this last respect was "The Sailors Mother," a tribute to a bereaved woman who protects the parrot of the son she has lost at sea under her cloak while she is forced to beg for alms in the wet. Quoting from a letter to Charles Fox on the hardships of the poor, Eliot remarks that "a great poem like Resolution and Independence" is better understood for an appreciation of the "purposes and social passions that animated its author." (56) He would certainly have raised an eyebrow at Huxley's curiously inept portrayal of a Wordsworth discomfited in the jungles of Borneo by "damp and stifling darkness, among the leeches"! (57)
Perhaps it took the publication of the Two-Part Prelude (1799) in 1974 to bring home just how central the apprehension of darkness was to Wordsworth's conception of the poem. The "spots of time," dispersed in all later versions, form the taut backbone of this first draff in which the celebration of nature is balanced by climactic scenes of encounter with the uncanny, the frightening, and--most challengingly--with the "dreary." Eliot would, however, have been altogether alert to Wordsworth's experience of the French revolution--his life with Annette Villon and his brushes with the Terror were the subject of the "new book" by Legouis. (58) He would have been long familiar, too, with the boat-taking episode, dominated by the menacing peak, (59) which he chose from The Prelude for the wartime broadcast he made while writing The Dry Salvages. This passage of confrontation functions in a way comparable with Eliot's description of the intermittently hidden reef of his title which, submerged at high tide, provides (along with the river in flood) a symbol of the way "agony abides":
And the ragged rock in the restless waters, Waves wash over it, fog conceals it; On a halcyon day it is merely a monument, In navigable weather it is always a seamark To lay a course by: but in the sombre season Or the sudden fury, is what it always was. (2, p 29)
A similar paring away of the more conscious levels of attention characterizes Wordsworths description of how, choosing a fixed point on which to set his course, and imagining himself in an "elfin pinnace," he rows out into the moonlit lake only to find his idyll suddenly broken,
When, from behind that craggy steep till then The horizons bound, a huge peak, black and huge, As if with voluntary power instinct Upreared its head. (1850, 1.377-80)
Eliot's "ragged rock" is perhaps all the more sinister for its contrary motion, but Wordsworth's rising massif gains on it in complexity. From the point of view of the child, locked in the grip of panic, terror is located in the external setting, but the reader is made aware that it is the boy's exertions that cause the hidden peak to rise, and that it is owing to the tricks of parallax and referred motion that he creates a daunting supernatural phantom:
I struck and struck again And growing still in stature the grim shape Towered up between me and the stars, and still For so it seemed, with purpose of its own And measured motion like a living thing Strode after me. (1850, 1.380-85)
Last in this series of disclosures is the revelation that the contents of his terror are enduring--as adamant, indeed, as Eliot's reef that "is what it always was," despite the invisibility conferred on it when "covered by the currents of action." Though the "huge and mighty forms" that remain to trouble Wordsworth's dreams carry the imprint of the "huge peak," they are understood to subsist internally, leaving him to reckon ultimately with "a dim and undetermined sense / Of unknown modes of being" (1850, 1.392-93).
Wordsworth's contemporaries would have found in this passage--and in others like it from the early books of The Prelude--something that closely resembled a popular form of rationalist explanation for the genesis of religious belief. A work on his father's shelves, and undoubtedly a reference point for his friends in France, was Holbach's Systeme de la nature (1770) which offered, in two notorious central chapters, a materialist account of all theistic faith. (60) Holbach's main contention is that, through ignorance or lack at least of adequate scientific knowledge, man has transferred powers that properly belong to nature to the gods. Upon the ruins of nature, as he colorfully puts it, (61) the altars of divinity have been raised, and in place of nature's laws man has erected a transmogrified but recognizable image of himself, a deity who bridles with anger at transgression, and punishes wherever there is remorse. Childhood, in particular, provides Holbach with a ready means of illustrating his idea that superstition is the fruit of incomprehension:
The more ignorant man is, or destitute of experience, the more he is susceptible of fear; solitude, the obscurity of a forest, silence and the darkness of night, the whistling of the winds, sudden and confused noises, are for all men who are unaccustomed to these things objects of terror: the uninformed man is a child, whom every thing astonishes and causes to tremble. (62)
Many of the experiences that Wordsworth presents in the first Book are of this kind. Witness--in addition to the vengeful peak--the breathings of the spectral pursuer that intrude upon one of his "night wanderings" after he has rifled a snare (1.324-32). For the most part, too, Wordsworth allows an informed, adult account to filter through alongside the vivid experience, so that we are invited to see that the peak's apparent rise is paradoxically caused by its increasing distance from the boat, that the giddiness of the skater imparts the sense of reeling motion to the surrounding cliffs, or that the voice that accosts the boy on the crag is inseparable from the blasts of a dry wind. (63) In one respect, however, the poet differs radically from the supremely rationalist philosophe for whom fear is to be reasoned away and all darkness dispelled at the first touch of light, so that the child's "alarms disappear" on acquaintance with the effects of nature altogether. (64)
Wordsworth, far from exorcising the emotions that are evoked by natural powers, seeks--while affirming their mystery--to admit and to contain, indeed to memorialize them. Reflecting on the boat escapade, he speaks of the need to sanctify both pain and fear which serve as the groundwork to the complex synthesis of "passions that build up our human soul" (1.427-41). It was to the allied notion of Bildung that Coleridge turned when, speaking in the role of the poem's addressee and reverting to its imagery, he lauded Wordsworth for his mastery of a "high theme by thee first sung aright": "the foundations and the building up / Of a Human Spirit." (65) Turned at last Trinitarian, Coleridge would ultimately detect a schism between Wordsworth's vision of a seamless world and his understanding of a human selfhood replete with freedom and moral purpose, once impishly conferring upon his friend the "/anus-head of Spinoza and Dr. Watts." (66) For the most part, though, Wordsworth intermeshes his metaphysical and developmental themes with great finesse. The "filial bond" that he takes to be foundational to all relationships is not simply the cause of his sense of unanimity but his point of entry also into an existence that corresponds to his imagined realm. Its severance, on the death of his mother, is arced by the accumulated charge of previous experience:
The props of my affection were removed, And yet the building stood, as if sustained By its own spirit. (2.294-96)
Despite the building metaphor, the underlying notion of psychic resistance is vitalistic.
Though Wordsworths symbolic peak carries (at the level of vehicle) no real association of danger in the way Eliot's notorious reef most emphatically does, nature for Wordsworth was far from inherently benign. In The Prelude this appears most explicitly in the dream about the Bedouin, a passage that doubles as a portrayal of the poet as a paragon of the most finely integrated personality. The occasion of this many-layered episode (too intricate to summarize here) is Wordsworth's rumination on the demise of all organic forms by natural catastrophe, and on the bleakness of a world from which not only all trace of human spirit but all "living presence" seems to have withdrawn. Such imaginings--invariably indebted to the geological and cosmological theories of enlightenment thinkers like Buffon, and Maupertuis--were a stock-in-trade of materialist critiques of religion in the late eighteenth century, and play a major role in the two notorious chapters from the Systeme. There Holbach contends that the human aptitude for religion lies embedded in the racial memory of ancient global cataclysm, and with clear reference to Buffon's Histoire naturelle enlarges on the vast inundations that have left "striking proofs of their residence" in the vestiges of marine shells, warning that the entire planet will be "overturned, altered, inundated, set on fire" in time to come. (67) In the recounted dream of The Prelude, poetry (as distinct from geometry or a priori truth) is represented by a shell from which--when placed against the ear of the dreamer--there issues an impassioned ode, foretelling "Destruction to the children of the earth / By deluge now at hand" (5.97-99). Poetry is thus not only linked to organic process, but is all that can be summoned--so the Bedouin attests--to withstand the thought of what will come, which it does by its ability to assuage and to contain, "with power / To exhilarate the spirit, and to soothe, / Through every clime the heart of human kind" (1850, 5.107-9). True to Erasmus Darwin's maxim ex conchis omnia, nature in The Prelude continues to speak with one voice, (68) but the shell itself looks forward to Eliot's sea of "Many gods and many voices." Foreseeing his own imminent engulfment the figure in the dream elegizes his symbol of poetry thus: "a god, yea many gods, Had voices more than all the winds" (5.107-8).
It is a mark of Eliot's distinct poetic stance that when he turns to prophecy, with the introduction of Krishna in part III, he creates a fresh variation on the deeply archetypal epiphany that nourishes the dream of the Bedouin. Whereas Wordsworth, despite his increasing commitment to a transcendental rather than immanent deity, (69) continued to produce religious poetry that was virtually compatible with belief in a hylozoistic materialism, Eliot goes out of his way to disable such reading. Where the "loud prophetic blast" from the Bedouins shell is delivered "in an unknown tongue, / Which yet I understood" (a glance perhaps at William Jones's idea of a linguistic "common source"), (70) Krishna's "Fare forward" emanates from a plane so ethereal as to elude all imagining: "a voice descanting (though not to the ear, / The murmuring shell of time, and not in any language)." Krishna's final words, loosely assembled from his speech to Arjuna, calling him to arms, have a surprisingly strong social content, however, and one amplified by the context of the poem's publication in February 1941, the month that Churchill came up with the term "Battle of the Atlantic." In accord with Eliot's plea, in The Idea of a Christian Society, for a celebration of a "natural collective consciousness" as a corrective to the corrosive effects of a liberal (and romantic) individualism, (71) the heroism that will "fructify in the lives of others" is rendered through a series of vignettes that capture an unconscious unanimity between the leave-takers at a station, or the lapse into anonymity of the passengers in transit on trains and liners as they sink into an almost trance-like state from which "time is withdrawn." A refreshing lack of hierarchy extends here to the way Eliot allows the aura of sanctity to encircle not only those who have died at sea, or are about to suffer the trials of action, but also those--in a reprise of the New England setting--"whose business has to do with fish." In sharp contrast to the curtly seen-off dancers of East Coker, the seafarers of Dry Salvages are treated with respect, indeed with something of that "warmth of feeling" for the ordinary that Eliot praised in Wordsworth. (72) Ironically, Eliot's reaction against the disabling cultural effects of a romantic egotism brings him all the closer to the original revolutionary spirit of the Lyrical Ballads. And for all its insistence on incarnation as the sole source of ultimate value, the third quartet--in pointed preparation perhaps for the last--keeps well to the leeward of the sainthood that it explicates. Mindful of the outlook "for most of us," Eliot brings the poem to rest on the "life of significant soil," though the pledge is noticeably less whole-hearted than Wordsworth's affirmation of the "very world which is the world / Of all of us, the place in which in the end, /We find our happiness, or not at all" (10.725-27).
In the final sonnet in his sequence on the River Duddon, Wordsworth contemplates--from his situation at the rivers mouth--the passing of the river into the ocean, which he has earlier glossed as the passing of the individual life into eternity. But instead of gazing out to sea, the poet casts his eyes back over the course of the river, consoling himself with the thought that its "Form remains, the Function never dies":
Enough, if something from our hands have power To live, and act, and serve the future hour; And if, as toward the silent tomb we go, Through love, through hope, and faith's transcendent dower, We feel that we are greater than we know. (73)
In the last line even the hope of an afterlife is inflected towards the present, and the whole body of the poem enacts a turning away from the sea, to suggest the prior claim of the fructification of the individual life in that of a wider existence, one made palpable by the topography and history of the Duddon's course. In Dry Salvages, by contrast, the poet turns his back on the river (last viewed in corpse-laden career towards the sea), and, in place of Wordsworth's invocation of an informal faith, raises a seaboard lookout from the fabric of doctrine and liturgy.
Less abrasive than the purgatorial machinery of Little Gidding (which includes the flagrant alignment of an enemy fighter with the pentecostal dove), the religious imagery of Dry Salvages responds to Eliots argument in The Idea of a Christian Society that the church constitutes "not a society of saints, but of ordinary men, whose Christianity is communal before being individual"; and whose worship should accordingly be rooted in the habits and customs of social life, as an "extension and sanctification of the domestic and social emotions." (74) This notion is in line with that benign analysis of the supernatural advanced by Emile Durkheim in The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, a book which strongly influenced Eliot as a youth. Here Durkheim contended that religions were better approached as an answer to human need than as a projection of uncomprehending human fear. They owed their status as the chief of all social bonding agents to their representation of a "concrete and living reality," and their rituals could often be understood as a stylization of spontaneous expression. (75) Eliot verges on this view when he speaks of culture being the "incarnation" of religion, (76) and he succeeds remarkably in rooting the sacramental concerns of Dry Salvages in a vividly rendered physical world. Just as the poem's sestina brings pattern to the notion of mere sequence, so the perpetual angelus regularizes the clanging bell of the buoy, and transfigures the uncontrolled grief audible in the "undeniable / Clamour of the bell of the last annunciation" into the assurance of the prayer with its accompaniment of measured tolling. So too, introduced through the homonym of annunciation, the Virgin Mary (though a far cry from Wordsworth's immanent mother) presides in the role of Stella Maris as a tutelary presence on the promontory, a beacon more commanding than the warning bell-buoy or groaner. That the poem's overarching symbol of the incarnation remains seamark as much as effigy points to Eliot's triumphant realization, on the formal plane, of what he hailed in Dante as the "gift of incarnation." (77) Finally, the sea itself undergoes a sea change, its dismal terrors abridged by the recall of Jonah:
Also pray for those who were in the ships, and Ended their voyage on the sand, in the sea's lips Or in the dark throat which will not reject them.
Perhaps Holbach was right, all the same, to suggest that the attribution of supernatural power is invariably undertaken at the cost of nature's depreciation. Though the Dry Salvages represents Eliot's closest approach to the loco-descriptive poem, its realism consistently conforms to the premise that life without faith is depleted, and landscape in itself a reminder of absence. That, however, is to ignore its other realm, which remains, whatever one's belief, a poetic one, endowed with a power "To exhilarate the spirit, and to soothe, / Through every clime the heart of human kind."
University of Cape Town
(1) Wordsworth is presented as the chief architect of a "far-reaching" revolution in two of the three main discussions of his work in The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism (London: Faber and Faber, 1933), 72-76, 87-88. In "Milton II" Eliot offers a succinct account of the last two poetic revolutions, each arising from a renewed "relation to contemporary speech," and separated by the course of the nineteenth century; see On Poetry and Poets (London: Faber and Faber, 1957), 159-60.
(2) Eliot, "Tradition and the Individual Talent" (1917), Selected Essays (Faber and Faber, 1953), 15.
(3) Eliot, Use of Poetry, 106, 115-16.
(4) See T. S. Apteryx, "Observations," Egoist 5 (May 1918): 69. Qtd. by Peter Howarth in "Georgian Poetry," in T. S. Eliot in Context, ed. Jason Harding (Cambridge U. Press, 2011), 226.
(5) Ezra Pound, "Beddoes and Chronology" (1913): "Perhaps 'alive' is scarcely the word one would apply to the 'luminary' of the Lake District. Wordsworth drew his first orderly and deliberate breath in 1770, and continued the alternate processes of inhalation and exhalation until 1850." See, also, "Landor" (1917), Ezra Pound: Selected Prose (London: Faber and Faber, 1973), 348, 354.
(6) Eliot, Use of Poetry, 69; On Poetry, 42.
(7) Eliot, "What Is Minor Poetry?" (1944), On Poetry, 42-43, 45.
(8) Use of Poetry, 114-15.
(9) Horace Gregory, New York Times Book Review, 16 May 1943, collected in T. S. Eliot: Critical Assessments, ed. Graham Clarke, 3 vols. (London: Helm, 1990), 3:90.
(10) Helen Gardner, The Art of T. S. Eliot (London: Faber and Faber, 1949), 45-46.
(11) See Muriel Bradbrook, "The Latest Verse of T. S. Eliot," Theology (1942), collected in T. S. Eliot: The Critical Heritage, ed. Michael Grant, 2 vols. (London: Methuen, 1982), 2. 458, 466. The comparison of Eliot's visionary moments to Wordsworth's "spots of time" has been greatly extended by a number of later critics; see particularly: James Benziger, Images of Eternity: Studies in the Poetry of Religious Vision from Wordsworth to T. S. Eliot (Illinois U. Press, 1962), 248; Edward Lobb, T. S. Eliot and the Romantic Critical Tradition (London: Routledge, 1981), 71-72; Michael O'Neill "Romantic and Victorian Poetry" in T. S. Eliot in Context, 201-3.
(12) W. H. Auden, "T. S. Eliot, O.M.: A Tribute," The Listener, 7 January 1965, 5.
(13) Eliot, Use of Poetry, 68; "Modern Tendencies in Poetry," Shama'a 1.1 (April 1920), 13; "Religion and Literature" (1935), Selected Essays, 391. Herbert was accorded the status of a major poet in "What Is Minor Poetry?" (1944), On Poetry, 45-46.
(14) T. S. Eliot, Points of View: Selected Critical Writings, ed. John Hayward (London: Faber and Faber, 1941), 84.
(15) Donald Davie, "T. S. Eliot: The End of an Era," in T. S. Eliot: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. Hugh Kenner (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1962), 194.
(16) "The Writer as Artist: T. S. Eliot and Desmond Hawkins," The Listener, 28 November 1940, 773-74.
(17) Eliot, Four Quartets (London: Faber and Faber, 1957), The Dry Salvages, 5, p. 32. Further references to the Four Quartets are to the standard edition (which lacks lineation) and are included in the text.
(18) See Richard Badenhausen, T. S. Eliot and the Art of Collaboration (Cambridge U. Press, 2004), 128-29. Badenhausen quotes from both "The Music of Poetry," and "The Social Function of Poetry," while noting that the Preface "turns up repeatedly in essays from this period." Eliot also reconsiders the Wordsworthian idea of poetic recollection when he remarks on the time taken to absorb an important experience poetically: see "Poetry in Wartime," Common Sense, 10.11 (October 1942): 351, and "What Is Minor Poetry?" (1944), On Poetry, 52.
(19) Ibid., 129.
(20) Eliot, "Milton II" (1947), On Poetry, 159.
(21) The two broadcasts took place on the evening of 22 November 1940. Richard Badenhausen remarks on the significance of Eliots choice; see T. S. Eliot and the Art of Collaboration, 128.
(22) Eliot, Selected Essays, 14.
(23) See particularly T. S. Eliot, Letter to the TLS, 28 October 1920. For a valuable discussion of Eliot's use of "classic" and "romantic," see Craig Raine, T. S. Eliot (Oxford U. Press, 2006), chap. 2.
(24) Christopher Ricks, T. S. Eliot and Prejudice (London: Faber and Faber, 1988), 274-75.
(25) Helen Gardner notes, in addition, the echo of Whitmans "When lilacs last in the dooryard bloomed"; see The Composition of Four Quartets (London: Faber and Faber, 1978), 123.
(26) William Wordsworth, The Prelude 1799,1805,1850, Norton Critical edition, ed. Jonathan Wordsworth, M. H. Abrams, and Stephen Gill (London: W. W. Norton, 1979), 1.269-74. References-given parenthetically hereafter--are from this edition throughout, and are to the version of 1805 unless otherwise stated.
(27) Davie, "T. S. Eliot: The End of an Era," 193, 197.
(28) For a vivid account of Eliots recurring apprehensions of the horrific, see Ronald Schuchard, Eliot's Dark Angel: Intersections of Life and Art (Oxord U. Press, 1999), particularly chap. 6.
(29) See The Prelude, 2.214; 13.173-80; 5.407-8; 4.110-11.
(30) Eliot, "The Frontiers of Criticism" (1956), in On Poetry, 111-12.
(31) Wordsworth: Poetical Works, ed. Thomas Hutchinson (Oxford U. Press, 1973), 148.
(32) "To Bonamy Dobree," 13 September 1930, The Letters of T. S. Eliot, Volume 5:1930-31, ed. Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden (London: Faber and Faber, 2015), 317; also "To Herbert Read," 23 August 1930,301-2; and see "Frontiers of Criticism" (1956), On Poetry, 111.
(33) Herbert Read, Wordsworth (London: Faber and Faber, 1930), 44.
(34) Peter Ackroyd, T. S. Eliot (London: Sphere, 1984), 262. The letter dated 15 September 1932 is in the Read archive at the University of Victoria.
(35) Lyndall Gordon, The Imperfect Life of T. S. Eliot (London: Virago, 1998), 352. The letter to his mother is dated 14 October 1917; see The Letters of T. S. Eliot, Volume 1, 1898-1922, ed. Valerie Eliot and Hugh Haughton (London: Faber and Faber, 2009), 199.
(36) St Louis Post-Dispatch, 8 August 1930, qtd. by Earl K. Holt, "St. Louis," T. S. Eliot in Context, 12.
(37) Eliot, Preface to Samuel Langhorne Clemens, Huckleberry Finn (London: Cresset, 1950), xii, xv. See Gardner, Composition, 49.
(38) Eliot, "The Music of Poetry" (1942), On Poetry, 38.
(39) Eliot, Use of Poetry, 118-19.
(40) Emile Legouis, The Early Life of William Wordsworth, trans. J. W. Matthews (London: J. M. Dent and Sons, 1921), 61. Eliot seems to have known of this work, for he refers to Wordsworth in a New Light (1923) as the "new Legouis book"; see The Letters of T. S. Eliot, Volume 2, 1923-25, 164.
(41) Eliot, The Idea of a Christian Society (London: Faber and Faber, 1939), 70.
(42) Preface to Huckleberry Finn, xv. Robert Crawford provides a graphic account of this event in the opening chapter of his biography, Young Eliot (Oxford U. Press, 2015).
(43) Eliot, The Idea of a Christian Society, 61-62.
(44) Eliot, Preface to E. A. Mowrer, This American World (London: Faber and Gwyer, 1928), xiii.
(45) Eliot, "Rudyard Kipling" (1941), On Poetry, 241-42.
(46) See The Dial, 73 (August 1922), 331; also Eliot, "John Marston" (1934), Essays on Elizabethan Drama (London: Faber and Faber, 1960), 173.
(47) See Ricks, T. S. Eliot, 275-76. From Eliots Harvard dissertation on F. H. Bradley, Ricks quotes, "The sea-anemone which accepts or rejects a proffered morsel is thereby relating an idea to the sea-anemone's world," 279.
(48) Davie, "T. S. Eliot: The End of an Era," 197.
(49) Eliot, "Wordsworth and Coleridge," Use of Poetry, 78-79.
(50) It seems likely that the opposition here between mere sequence and pattern owes something to F. H. Bradley's argument that pleasures can only be apprehended as a series and so must fall short of providing the pattern required to give meaning to experience. One of the extracts from Eliot's broadcast "The Writer as Artist" (22 November 1940) was taken from this chapter, "Pleasure for Pleasure's sake," of Ethical Studies (1927).
(51) Eliot, "Baudelaire" (1930), Selected Essays, 370.
(52) Legouis, The Early Life, 480.
(53) See T. S. Eliot, Thoughts after Lambeth (London: Faber and Faber, 1931), 9; Letter to John Middleton Murry, 6 November 1931, Letters ofT. S. Eliot, 5:728; S. Musgrove, T. S. Eliot and Walt Whitman (Auckland U. Press, 1952), 14-15; and Notes towards the Definition of Culture (London: Faber and Faber, 1948), 68. Steve Ellis comments on Eliot's distaste for pantheism in the Wordsworthian mold; see The English Eliot (London: Routledge, 1991), 103-4.
(54) Eliot, The Use of Poetry, 87-89,100-1.
(55) Ibid., 80.
(56) Ibid., 72-73.
(57) Aldous Huxley, Do What You Will (London: Chatto and Windus, 1931), 129. Lyndall Gordon suggests that Eliot may have had this volume in mind when he jotted down the name Huxley against the Fourth Tempter in some preliminary notes for Murder in the Cathedral, see Gordon, 268-69.
(58) Emile Legouis, Wordsworth in a New Light (Harvard U. Press, 1923); see especially his speculations on Wordsworth and the execution of Gorsas, 23-26.
(59) Both Garrod and Read quote and comment on the passage: see H. W. Garrod, Wordsworth (Oxford U. Press, 1923), 32; Herbert Read, Wordsworth (London: Faber and Faber, 1930), 46. The latter was retrospectively described by Eliot as "an interesting book" in "Frontiers of Criticism" (1956); see On Poetry, 111; for remarks on Garrod's study see Eliot, The Use of Poetry, 71-72.
(60) In Wordsworth's Reading 1770-1799 (Cambridge U. Press, 1993) Duncan Wu suggests 1791-92 as a likely date for Wordsworth's acquaintance with this work, 74-75. Coleridge contemplated an "Answer to the System of Nature' in 1796; see S. T. Coleridge Notebooks, ed. Kathleen Coburn (Princeton U. Press, 1957), l:161(b). Quotations here are from the trans. of 1795 by William Hodgson.
(61) M. Mirabaud [Baron d'Holbach], The System of Nature, trans. William Hodgson, 4 vols. (London, 1795-6), 3:34-35, 48.
(62) Ibid., 3:15.
(63) Ibid., 1:341-50, 478-86. Wordsworth's short lyric, "A Whirl-Blast from behind the hill" (1798), provides an especially articulate illustration of this process of referred animation; see Wordsworth, Poetical Works, 122.
(64) Holbach, The System of Nature, 3:15.
(65) "To William Wordsworth," Coleridge: Poems, ed. John Beer (London: J. M. Dent and Sons, 1978), 301. (66) To Thomas Allsop, 8 August 1820, Collected Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ed. Earl Leslie Griggs, (Oxford U. Press, 1971), 5:95.
(67) Holbach, The System of Nature, 3:19-20.
(68) Wordsworth had read Zoonomia, in which Darwin suggested that an original "living filament" had evolved into all living things, adducing the maxim which he had earlier adopted for his crest; see Zoonomia, 2 vols. (London, 1794), 1:505. Ernest Bernhardt Kabisch mentions the Darwinian parallel in his wide-ranging essay "The Stone and the Shell: Wordsworth, Cataclysm, and the Myth of Glaucus," Studies in Romanticism 23 (1984): 486. Since J. C. C. Mays's work on the MSS of "The Eolian Harp," Coleridges first use of the term "the one Life" can be dated to the revision he made in 1795-96 to this conspicuously Darwinian poem; see Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Poetical Works II (Princeton U. Press, 2001), 316-17.
(69) For a pioneering discussion of this shift, see James Benziger, Images of Eternity: Studies in the Poetry of Religious Vision from Wordsworth to T. S. Eliot (Illinois U. Press, 1962), 42-49. Wordsworths official entry into the Anglican communion is often dated to his publication of Ecclesiastical Sketches in 1822. "Ten years earlier," Stephen Gill remarks, "he had confessed that he felt 'no need of a Redeemer'"; see William Wordsworth: A Life (Oxford U. Press, 1990), 344. Thomas McFarland shrewdly observes of Wordsworth that "in so far as he was a 'worshipper of nature' he was a pantheist and not a Christian; for a Christian worships God through Christ"; Coleridge and the Pantheist Tradition (Oxford U. Press, 1969), 270-71.
(70) "Third Anniversary Discourse" (1786), Works of Sir William Jones, 6 vols. (London, 1799), 1:26.
(71) Eliot, The Idea of a Christian Society, 16.
(72) Eliot, Use of Poetry, 74.
(73) Wordsworth, Poetical Works, 303. I am indebted to Jonathan Bate's fine discussion of this sequence in The Song of the Earth (London: Picador, 2000), 221-25.
(74) Eliot, The Idea of a Christian Society, 59, 30.
(75) Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, trans. Joseph Swain (London: Allen and Unwin, 1915), 257,247.
(76) Eliot, Notes towards the Definition of Culture, 28, 33.
(77) Eliot, The Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry, ed. Ronald Schuchard (Orlando: Harcourt Brace, 1996), 58.
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