Among the smoke and fog of a December afternoon You have the scene arrange itself—as it will seem to do— With "I have saved this afternoon for you"; And four wax candles in the darkened room, Four rings of light upon the ceiling overhead, An atmosphere of Juliet's tomb Prepared for all the things to be said, or left unsaid. We have been, let us say, to hear the latest Pole Transmit the Preludes, through his hair and fingertips. How keen you are! How much it means that I say this to you— Without these friendships—life, what cauchemar!
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Eliot that was first published in in Ara Vos Prec his volume of collected poems published in London and Poems an almost identical collection published simultaneously in New York.
Alfred Prufrock " and The Waste Land , and other works published by Eliot in the early part of his career, '"Gerontion" discusses themes of religion, sexuality , and other general topics of modernist poetry. Gerontion is one of the handful of poems that Eliot composed between the end of World War I in and his work on The Waste Land in During that time, Eliot was working at Lloyds Bank and editing The Egoist , devoting most of his literary energy to writing review articles for periodicals.
When he published the two collections in February, Ara Vos Prec , Gerontion was almost the only poem he had never offered to the public before and was placed first in both volumes. Two earlier versions of the poem can be found, the original typescript of the poem as well as that version with comments by Ezra Pound. In the typescript, the name of the poem is "Gerousia", referring to the name of the Council of the Elders at Sparta.
When Eliot proposed publishing Gerontion as the opening part of The Waste Land , Pound discouraged him: "I do not advise printing Gerontion as preface. One don't miss it at all as the thing now stands.
The poem itself is a dramatic monologue by an elderly character. The use of pronouns such as "us" and "I" regarding the speaker and a member of the opposite sex as well as the general discourse in lines 53—58, in the opinion of Anthony David Moody, presents the same sexual themes that face Prufrock, only this time they meet with the body of an older man. The poem them moves to a more abstract meditation on a kind of spiritual malaise.
It concludes with the lines,. Many of the themes within "Gerontion" are present throughout Eliot's later works, especially within The Waste Land. This is especially true of the internal struggle within the poem and the narrator's "waiting for rain".
Time is also altered by allowing past and present to be superimposed, and a series of places and characters connected to various cultures are introduced. To Donald J. Childs, the poem attempts to present the theme of Christianity from the viewpoint of the modernist individual with various references to the Incarnation and salvation.
Childs believes that the poem moves from Christmas Day in line 19 "in the Juvescence of the year" to the Crucifixion in line 21 as it speaks of "depraved May" and "flowering Judas". He argues that Gerontion contemplates the "paradoxical recovery of freedom through slavery and grace through sin". Eliot and the Dialectic of Modernism. Peter Sharpe states that "Gerontion" is the poem that shows Eliot "taking on the mantle of his New England Puritan forebears" as Gerontion views his life as the product of sin.
Sharpe suggests that Christ appears to Gerontion as a scourge because he understands that he must reject the "dead world" to obtain the salvation offered by Christianity. In The American T. Eliot , Eric Whitman Sigg describes the poem as "a portrait of religious disillusion and despair", and suggests that the poem, like "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", explores the relationship between action and inaction and their consequences.
Kazin suggests that in lines 33—36 the poem attempts to show how Eliot tells his generation that history is "nothing but human depravity":.
Nasreen Ayaz argues that in the fourth movement of the poem, Gerontion shows that his loss of faith in Christianity has resulted in an emotional sterility to go along with the physical. In that stanza he remembers a former mistress and regrets that he no longer has the ability to interact with her on a physical level. The "closer contact" sought by the narrator represents both the physical longing of intimacy as well as the emotional connection he previously had with the female described in the poem.
In lines 17—19, Gerontion alludes to the Pharisees' statement to Christ in Matthew when they say "Master, we would see a sign from thee. James Longenbach argues that these lines show that Gerontion is unable to extract the spiritual meaning of the Biblical text because he is unable to understand words in a spiritual sense: "Gerontion's words have no metaphysical buttressing, and his language is studded with puns, words within words.
The passage on history is a series of metaphors that dissolve into incomprehensibility". The narrator of the poem discusses sexuality throughout the text, spending several lines, including lines 57—58 where he says:. Ian Duncan MacKillop in F. Leavis argues that impotence is a pretext of the poem the same way that embarrassment is the pretext of " Portrait of a Lady ".
He argues that the narrator writes each line of the poem with an understanding that he is unable to fulfill any of his sexual desires.
Marion Montgomery, writing in T. Eliot: an Essay on the American Magus , equates the loss of these senses with the mindset that controls the narrative of the poem.
Gerontion has lost the ability to partake in the same sexual endeavours that face Nathaniel Hawthorne 's hero in " Young Goodman Brown ", yet Montgomery believes he has "turned from innocent hope to pursue significance in the dark forces of the blood".
Gerontion's exploration of sinful pleasures takes place in his mind, according to Montgomery, as he can "discover no vital presence in the sinful shell of his body". The phrase "wilderness of mirrors" from the poem has been alluded to by many other writers and artists.
It has been used as the titles of plays by Van Badham and Charles Evered , of novels by Max Frisch , and of albums by bands such as Waysted. Rock singer Fish entitled his first solo album Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors. Some commentators believe that James Jesus Angleton took the phrase from this poem when he described the confusion and strange loops of espionage and counter-intelligence, such as the Double-Cross System , as a "wilderness of mirrors".
It was the title of an episode of the television series JAG where the protagonist is subjected to disinformation. There is a connection between Gerontion and Eliot's understanding of F. Bradley 's views. In Eliot's doctoral dissertation, later published as Knowledge and Experience in the Philosophy of F.
Bradley , Eliot explores Bradley's philosophy to determine how the mind relates to reality. By relying on Bradley, Eliot is able to formulate his own scepticism and states: "Everything, from one point of view, is subjective; and everything, from another point of view is objective; and there is no absolute point of view from which a decision may be pronounced. Lines within the poems are connected to the works of a wide range of writers, including A. Eliot scholar Grover Smith said of this poem, "If any notion remained that in the poems of Eliot was sentimentally contrasting a resplendent past with a dismal present, Gerontion should have helped to dispel it.
The literary critic Anthony Julius , who has analysed the presence of anti-Semitic rhetoric in Eliot's work,   has cited "Gerontion" as an example of a poem by Eliot that contains anti-Semitic sentiments. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the Homeland episode, see Gerontion Homeland.
Eliot: A Bibliography. Eliot, Ezra Pound. Valerie Eliot. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt p. Eliot: Mystic, Son, and Lover. Continuum International Publishing Group p.
Penn State Press , p. Poems, Alfred Knopf p. The Cambridge companion to T. Cambridge University Press p. Eds Carl Woodring, James S. Routledge pp. Dalkey Archive Press p. Mystery and Escape: T. Univ of Massachusetts Press p. The Ground of our Beseeching p.
The American T. Eliot Cambridge University Press p. Eliot Stance in Recent Criticism. Palgrave Macmillan p. Eliot: an Essay on the American Magus. University of Georgia Press pp. Columbia Journalism Review. Archived from the original on 3 July JAG Credits. Archived from the original on 28 July Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
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Gerontion by T.S. Eliot
Eliot, the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, is one of the giants of modern literature, highly distinguished as a poet, literary critic, dramatist, and editor and publisher. Prose Home Harriet Blog. Visit Home Events Exhibitions Library. Newsletter Subscribe Give. Poetry Foundation. Back to Previous.
A Short Analysis of T. S. Eliot’s ‘Gerontion’
Eliot He is also not far from the judgment of God as he was removed from near the heart of Him. Because of the loss of his passion he was removed. He rejected his passion of his will because he did not want to see his passion getting corrupted.