Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence


For Thine is the Boredom

Helen Gardner, The Art of T.S.Eliot: A study investigating the musicality of "The Four Quartets", extended into a consideration of all Eliot's poesy, which lacks the tautness and sharp insight of the original study. I read this with half an eye to Pale Fire, in which reference to both "The Waste Land" and "The Four Quartets" plays its part (cf prior posts on poet/critics and poetic criticism); the fact that the gardener has a key role in PF made it seem more than likely this was no coincidence; but as it turns out, it was (even though Maud Bodkin gets a footnote). Where Gardner begins to go off the rails is when she takes on Eliot's career, and approach to faith, in the light of comments he made on Matthew Arnold in "The Use of Poetry", in particular:
...We mean all sorts of things, I know, by Beauty. But the essential advantage for the poet is not, to have a beautiful world with which to deal; it is to be able to see beneath both beauty and ugliness; to see the boredom, and the horror, and the glory. The vision of the horror and the glory was denied to Arnold, but he knew something of the boredom.
Gardner hones in on "the boredom, and the horror, and the glory" as the trajectory of Eliot's development. But she misses the consonance with "the kingdom, and the power, and the glory", and so the significance with respect to both Arnold and Eliot. On the other hand it did lead me to Donald Justice's take in memory of the unknown poet ... but as a "landmark study" this is just a historical landmark.


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