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Page 93

PART II - BOOKS
CHAPTER IV - T. S. ELIOT

Gerard Manly Hopkins is a case in point-a poet as difficult as Mr. Eliot, and far more specialized ecclesiastically, yet however twisted his diction and pietistic his emotion, there is always a hint to the layman to come in if he can, and participate. Mr. Eliot does not want us in. He feels we shall increase the barrenness. To say he is wrong would be rash, and to pity him would be the height of impertinence, but it does seem proper to emphasize the real as opposed to the apparent difficulty of his work. He is difficult because he has seen something terrible, and (underestimating, I think, the general decency of his audience) has declined to say so plainly.
I have called that terrible thing Armadillo-Armageddon, and perhaps another personal reminiscence may conclude this very personal approach. It is of a bright August morning in 1914. I am lying in bed. The milkman below calls as usual with the milk, and through the clink of the handle I hear him say :` We've gone in.' This, in its small way, is the kind of experience that must have beset Mr. Eliot, and rooted itself in the soil of his mind. Most of us forget such an experience, or do not feel it acutely. Only here and there does it expand and contort into

The circles of the stormy moon
Slide westward toward the River Plate,
Death and the Raven drift above
And Sweeney guards the horned gate.

travel books:
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