Saturday, November 12, 2005

Gloomed To Death

I think that the end of a purely materialistic civilization with all its technical achievements and its mass amusement is . . . simply boredom. A people without religion will in the end find that it has nothing to live for.

That's T. S. Eliot. If his poems are anything to go by, he knew a lot about boredom.

In the room, the women come and go
Speaking of Michelangelo

And -

I think we live in a rats alley
Where dead men lost their bones.

He certainly has an optimistic outlook.

He's also a pasisonate poet. His poems are full of extreme emotions, ranging from deep depression to exuberant melancholy. I wouldn't be surprise if he gloomed his first wife, Vivienne Haigh-Wood into bipolar disorder. The history books are out on that one, but you never know.

In his most famous works, he manages to combine this all-pervading gloom with his characteristic boredom. Mix the lines up a bit so that their meaning gets confused, and the results are devastating:

What is that noise?"
The wind under the door.
"What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?"
Nothing again nothing.
"You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember

I remember
Those are pearls that were his eyes.

God, I wonder if he was like this in person. No wonder his wives left him. That's from his poem The Wasteland - virtually compulsory reading for any second year student at Uni studying English lit. Once I even considered writing a translation of The Wasteland into the English language, so we could see what he really meant:

April is the cruelest month.
Viv got angry at me again today.
I don't know what's got into that bitch lately, maybe s
he doesn't like me smoking?
I don't know. You fucking bastards will be laughing on the other side of your face, one of these days.
Yeah. I'm going to be a REALLY GREAT poet. You'll see. Fuck you.

I don't think this poem is going very well. Maybe I should convert to Christianity.

Those are the pearls that were his eyes. (Hmmm, like that line, must use it ...)

Nah, makes too much sense.

Then again, Eliot did once come up with this memorable piece of conversation:

Person at conference: Mr Eliot, what do you mean by the following?

Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper tree

Eliot: I meant three white leopards sat under a juniper tree.

I think we can all agree with that.


nailpolishblues said...

Somebody meaning what they say? Oh no, my head!

TimT said...

I know, Nails. I'm scared too.

David said...

To quote the immortal TISM, from 'Mistah Eliot - He Wanker'

T.S Eliot tuned the radio,
Couldn't get rid of the static.
Serves him right for being so
Fucking enigmatic.

T.S Eliot crashed his motor car,
Snapped the clutch cable.
I bet you my youngest daughter,
Could drink him under the table.

TimT said...

That's quite good, though I don't know what the line about the motor car has to do with anything.

I must listen to more of your 'rock music', young David.

Email: timhtrain - at -

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