T. S. Eliot's Ariel Poems: The Poetics of Recovery

Overview

Written for the most part during an intense, three-year surge of poetic energy, the Ariel poems of T. S. Eliot represent a transition from The Waste Land cycle of poems to the threshold of Eliot's dramatic writings and the Four Quartets. T.S. Eliot's Ariel Poems: The Poetics of Recovery, the first book-length study to focus solely upon these poems, examines the thematic and stylistic developments in Eliot's art during the late 1920s. As a group, the Ariel poems develop Eliot's search for new forms for new themes....
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Overview

Written for the most part during an intense, three-year surge of poetic energy, the Ariel poems of T. S. Eliot represent a transition from The Waste Land cycle of poems to the threshold of Eliot's dramatic writings and the Four Quartets. T.S. Eliot's Ariel Poems: The Poetics of Recovery, the first book-length study to focus solely upon these poems, examines the thematic and stylistic developments in Eliot's art during the late 1920s. As a group, the Ariel poems develop Eliot's search for new forms for new themes. Despite his early advocacy of impersonality, the Ariel poems do not so much represent a rejection of earlier artistic beliefs as a refinement and adaptation of them, particularly as he sought a means of poetic expression for his developing religious sensibility. In particular, this study examines a transformation from imagism to patterned symbolism, from a disembodied and fragmentary poetic voice to a unified and increasingly personal poetic voice, and from random allusion to the appropriation of a new set of literary influences. While the literary influence of Dante upon Eliot's work has generally been well-established, the Ariel poems appropriate that influence in particular ways. Other major figures important to Eliot during this transitional period include Lancelot Andrewes, Saint Augustine, and Saint John of the Cross. To demonstrate the transitions in Eliot's work, this study closely examines Eliot's poetic production for the years 1927-31. Primary attention is given to the traditionally-received Ariel poems of this period - "Journey of the Magi," "A Song for Simeon," "Animula," "Marina," "Triumphal March" and the Coriolan fragment - but also to Ash Wednesday, which may be seen thematically and stylistically as part of the Ariel series, and to the later (1954) "Cultivation of Christmas Trees."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780838752869
  • Publisher: Bucknell University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/1994
  • Pages: 203

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations 9
Acknowledgments 11
Introduction: Recovery of a Tradition 15
1 The Aesthetics of Impersonality 28
2 The Validation of Voice 40
3 "Journey of the Magi": Seeking Satisfaction 64
4 Ash Wednesday in the Ariel Pattern 89
5 Permutations on the Saints' Stair: "A Song for Simeon," "Animula," "The Cultivation of Christmas Trees" 117
6 The Moment of Recognition: "Marina" 138
7 A Step in New Directions: "Triumphal March" and the Shaping of Coriolan 153
8 Redeeming the Time 172
Notes 178
Works Cited 194
Index 201
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