Friday, June 5, 2009

The Infamous Mrs. Eliot © Megan Snider

"I came to persuade myself that I was in love with Vivienne simply because I wanted to burn my boats and commit myself to staying in England. And she persuaded herself (also under the influence of Pound) that she would save the poet by keeping him in England. To her, the marriage brought no happiness. To me, it brought the state of mind out of which came The Waste Land."
--Eliot, writing about Vivienne Haigh-Wood-Eliot

I've read a lot concerning Eliot's relationship with his wife Vivienne Haigh-Wood. For some reason, it is not until tonight I feel quite so sorry for her. I've read this story before in a seperate book, but I'll leave it here for your reference. (Click to read.)

Strangely enough, I can see myself as the next Vivienne Haigh-Wood. I don't run, but I have walked after a few ambitious male writers. LOL. I guess my high esteem of Eliot took away from the fact that he did not do a great deal to rehabilitate his wife. It is possible he did not know what to do or he did not care. It seems as if he rather abandoned her now that I see the story again. I always saw Vivienne as an interference because I believe he married her for the wrong reasons-- but that was not her failure; it was his. Assertions of his suppressed homosexuality also spring up which I will not really go into detail about. (I have had headaches for three weeks now; leave me be.)

I'm not sure why I have a renewed sympathy for Vivienne. I went over "The Wasteland" with my mother the other day-- yes, it's true; I did-- and she pointed out that Eliot's supposed answers to his wife in the poem did little to help soothe her condition.

Supposedly, so I was once taught once upon a class, the quoted sections are mimicking Vivienne, while the unquoted remarks are Eliot.

'My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me.

'Speak to me. Why do you never speak? Speak.

'What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?

'I never know what you are thinking. Think.'

I think we are in rats' alley
Where the dead men lost their bones.

'What is that noise?'

The wind under the door.

'What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?'

Nothing again nothing.


'You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember


I remember

Those are pearls that were his eyes.

'Are you alive, or not? Is there nothing in your head?'


O O O O that Shakespeherian Rag—

It's so elegant

So intelligent

'What shall I do now? What shall I do?'

'I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street

'With my hair down, so. What shall we do to-morrow?

'What shall we ever do?'

The hot water at ten.

And if it rains, a closed car at four.

And we shall play a game of chess,

Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door.

I'm not sure where the passage ends; there is interference from a number of voices in the poem. But, you can see the general idea. Eliot is in blue; his wife is in red. The passages I am unsure about are left in the color of the regular text. I will not assume anything about Eliot. That's a good way to get kicked in the pearly whites.

Vivienne's condition was marked down to "hysteria" thanks to the wonderful attention doctors pay to women in particular. It seems to be a "nerve condition" or, more appropriately, an Anxiety Disorder and psychosis from the paranoia. Strangely enough, both Vivienne and Eliot display disordered thought. Eliot's passages clearly state apathy, lethargy, and depression. He's not hard to nail down in this respect.

The Shakespeare reference, I can explain thanks to an excellent doctor I once had. I wondered about that for a long time. But, my headache is pounding and I'm concerned over my writing status. So, not tonight; I have a headache. LOL.

© Megan Snider

I've had enough with critics and editors! Enough! Enough! Enough! (Especially ones with no degrees.) Everyone's a critic, eh?

If you have complaints, send them to: kissmyfoot@idon'

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