Blake and Modern Literature by Edward Larrissy (auth.)

By Edward Larrissy (auth.)

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But named places in London he does have in The Waste Land: 'Highbury bore me. Richmond and Kew / Undid me [... J. '8 The idea of a large mythological figure (in this case feminine), whose parts are symbolically dispersed across London, hovers behind these lines. If one asks who before Eliot apart from Blake has written lines like this, the answer must be, nobody. In sum, Eliot appears to be offering an implied rebuke to Yeats and Blake by adapting myths which in his estimation are central to European tradition.

The Waste Land suggests that Eliot's writing could indeed be influenced in a significant way by Blake: a way that was reflected in part of the larger conception of the poem. There are other examples, and perhaps the most striking is to be found in Gerontion, a fact which is given further piquancy by the knowledge that Eliot's first thought Eliot between Blake and Yeats 33 had been to make it an opening or introductory section of what became The Waste Land. l2 The other reference, to Blake's 'The Tyger', is no mere playing with associations, but is profoundly Blakean.

Some settled disposition or mood keeps him in a state of sadness so disabling to the heart's inspiration that his song is formless and meaningless. As we have already suggested, even groups of poems or even whole books may stand in contrast to each other. Thus the early group which Yeats came to call Crossways contrasts with the immediately subsequent one called The Rose. This becomes clearer when one remembers that both terms refer to the 'Rosy Cross' of Rosicrucianism, the syncretist tendency of occult thought which was at the centre of Golden Dawn speculations.

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