[ilds] Eliot's Burbank, again

william godshalk godshawl at email.uc.edu
Sun Apr 22 18:16:39 PDT 2007


When we too briefly discussed Durrell's use of Eliot's poem, we 
didn't discuss the submerged reference that Eliot makes to 
Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, and how that reference plays out 
in Justine. Why does the narrator quote so little of the poem? Does 
the narrator envision himself as an Antony who will be left high and 
dry by the musical departure of his God Hercules? Which of the women 
will play Cleopatra to the narrator's Antony -- or Burbank?  It is 
Cleopatra's barge that burns on the water all the day. For me, this 
remains an interesting puzzle, and one not easily figured out.

Defunctive music under sea
   Passed seaward with the passing bell
Slowly: the God Hercules
   Had left him, that had loved him well.

The horses, under the axletree
   Beat up the dawn from Istria
With even feet. Her shuttered barge
   Burned on the water all the day.

WLG
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W. L. Godshalk		*
Department of English         *
University of Cincinnati            Stellar disorder  *
Cincinnati OH 45221-0069      *
513-281-5927
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