Establishing patterns

17 Feb 2020 3:36 PM | Frances Dickey (Administrator)

On 9 August, 1933, Eliot writes to Hale from Pike’s Farm that at moments he perceives a pattern in life, which gives him a feeling of peace. Eliot’s behavior towards Hale also begins to establish patterns. Although he often expresses the belief that they are becoming closer and closer, the reality is that he pulls her towards him and then pushes her away, sometimes both at the same time. During Fall 1933, through his lawyers and other intermediaries, Eliot presses Vivien to sign a separation with him and accept a financial settlement. He seems to be enjoying his newfound freedom and begins looking for rooms in London. Hale writes infrequently in September and October, finally coming out with a request for clarity about what their future holds, perhaps saying that he lacks commitment. He writes back on 28 October that for many years he was numbed as if living amidst the noise and chaos of a factory, occasionally producing a burst of poetry. After that, the excitement of their correspondence kept him going, and now that he has a chance to take stock of his new life, he recognizes that he can only go a certain distance and no further. He may be referring to his refusal to divorce Vivien, or to his vow of celibacy, or both.

Eliot elaborates on 19 November that there is nothing in the world he would not give if he could hope that she would accept him as her husband (the sentence is really that convoluted). He can hardly imagine what it would mean to be married to her. He must appear quite grotesque and a poor spectacle of a man to need any urging by her.  But he must consider the impact of his behavior on the Church, in which he is probably the most important layman alive; were he to divorce, he would be excommunicated. His defection would lend strength to the enemies of Christianity. And as he said before (and will say again many times), he can’t get a divorce because Vivien would have to seek it against him, which she will never do. It may now seem to her that he has been deceiving her, he writes, and perhaps he should never have revealed his feelings to her. He never meant to change her feelings towards him, but only to pay tribute to her. He is grateful for all she has given him, and he denies her charge that he has idealized her. Finally, he swears that there never has been anyone else besides her, nor will there ever be. He begs her for a reply.


  • 18 Feb 2020 10:28 AM | CR Mittal
    Incidentally, The Hollow Men too seems to have been written apropos of his disappointment in love. It has its antecedent in A Cooking Egg.

    “This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms”

    - The Hollow Men

    “Where are the eagles and the trumpets?”

    - A Cooking Egg
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