The Re-Creative Modernism in Stéphane Mallarmé’s Late Sonnets, T. S. Eliot’s "Poems</I>, and the Prose Poetry since Charles-Pierre Baudelaire
Chapter Five. What the Thrush Said: The Re-Creative Secondness as a Synthetic Thirdness
← 87 | 88 →CHAPTER FIVE
The Re-Creative Secondness as a Synthetic Thirdness
In the first section of T.S. Eliot’s “Burnt Norton” (1943), a singing thrush in echoes acts as a guide in the same way as Virgil in Dante’s Divine Comedy. The thrush appears in the middle of the narrative section to direct a pair of wanderers into a rose-garden presumably situated underground, calling “find them, find them.” The influence of Dante’s Comedy on Eliot is proved by the exotic title of the latter’s 1920 collection, Ara Vos Prec, which represents a speech of a character in the former’s Comedy.1
The Eliot thrush is a node of reminiscence and intertextuality. A classical series of literary echoes is gathered by the reticent bird: those of Dante’s Divine Comedy and the succession of English romantic poems by Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, and Browning as the patriarchal predecessors, i.e., the influential canon.
As with Dante’s Comedy, Eliot’s thrush section directs a couple of apprentices to explore the rose-garden as an illusory reservoir with an omniscient guide; the thrush is like the Latin poet. Both works modernize the Bible. In Dante’s work, the third sphere of heaven, which simulates an auditorium, may be considered as taking the form of a blooming rose, this transformation of the sunny ball. In Eliot’s first section of “Burnt Norton,” equally, a peeping rose is identified with the sun, as both are emitting the interchangeable rays of light. Moreover, the conclusion of ← 88 | 89 → Eliot’s Four Quartets, of which...
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