Gerontion by T.S. Eliot Essay

1629 Words7 Pages
History Over Nature: Effects of Revision in Gerontion After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions, Guides us by vanities. These lines from T.S. Eliot's "Gerontion" (1429, 34-37) appear in the final version of the poem, published in 1920. The speaker of this dramatic monologue is an old man sitting inside a “decayed house.” The reference to knowledge invokes the original sin of Adam and Eve, signifying that the man (or society as a whole) has disobeyed God. Christ is no longer a symbol of forgiveness, but is instead represented by the fierce image of “Christ the tiger” (20, 49). In the absence of spiritual redemption,…show more content…
The man describes an identical situation at the end of the poem, saying, “Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season” (76). The concept of nature as a source of order is based on its function as a cycle. The old man waits for the cycle to deliver him from his spiritually dry state to a place of fulfillment. But nature brings no change to the man and leaves him in the same arid condition in which he began. The failure of nature to provide a cycle is supported by the natural, stationary images in the poem, such as, “Rocks, moss, stonecrop, iron, merds” (12), and the “Gull against the wind, in the windy straits” (70), which shows nature forcefully impeding the progress of the bird, just as its lack of cycle reinforces the stagnation of the old man’s mind, body, and spirit. The idea of looking to nature to find order, or at least escape from a chaotic world, is seen early in Eliot's career. In “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” ( [published 1915] 1420), the speaker, Prufrock, also finds himself alienated from the world. At the end of the poem, his monologue leaves the decaying city and disassociated society, describing a scene of natural beauty: “I have seen them [mermaids] riding seaward on the waves....We have lingered in the chambers of the sea/ By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown” (126,129-130). Through his imaginary escape into nature, Prufrock seems to have made a connection.
Open Document