Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A new way to read the olds!

Thanks to Frances who made the funny error of rifling through a pile of small poetry magazines with which Eliot's The Wasteland and other Poems had got mixed up in and read his 'Gerontion' thinking it was in a current poetry magazine, I decided to have a read at 'Gerontion' pretending I was reading it in a current magazine. What a different perspective I gained in the reading of the poem!

The biggest bone of contention is certainly the Jew squatting on the windowsill, I can't imagine any poetry magazines today (quite rightly so) being willing to publish that.
But what stikes me most is the prophetic voice in the poem side by side with the everyday.
We get the rather endearing domestic details of the woman who 'keeps the kitchen, makes tea, / sneezes at evening ' to the powerful image of 'Christ the tiger'.
I'm not going to analyse the poem, just pointing out what really strikes me if I imagine the poem as written today.


Colin Will said...

I discovered the poem when I was still at school in the 1950's, and it made a huge impression on me.

Sorlil said...

It's a stunner of a poem isn't it?
I had always kind of overlooked it before in favour of Prufock or The Wasteland so I've really enjoyed getting a fresh perspective on it.

Colin Will said...

I can still remember chunks of it by heart, after all this time. But you're right about his anti-semitism - there's no justification for that. "And an old man driven by the Trades/ To a sleepy corner."