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Sweeney Among the Nightingales Analysis

Author: Poetry of Thomas Stearns Eliot Type: Poetry Views: 792

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Apeneck Sweeney spreads his knees

Letting his arms hang down to laugh,

The zebra stripes along his jaw

Swelling to maculate giraffe.

The circles of the stormy moon

Slide westward toward the River Plate,

Death and the Raven drift above

And Sweeney guards the horned gate.

Gloomy Orion and the Dog

Are veiled; and hushed the shrunken seas;

The person in the Spanish cape

Tries to sit on Sweeney's knees

Slips and pulls the table cloth

Overturns a coffee-cup,

Reorganized upon the floor

She yawns and draws a stocking up;

The silent man in mocha brown

Sprawls at the window-sill and gapes;

The waiter brings in oranges

Bananas figs and hothouse grapes;

The silent vertebrate in brown

Contracts and concentrates, withdraws;

Rachel née Rabinovitch

Tears at the grapes with murderous paws;

She and the lady in the cape

Are suspect, thought to be in league;

Therefore the man with heavy eyes

Declines the gambit, shows fatigue,

Leaves the room and reappears

Outside the window, leaning in,

Branches of wisteria

Circumscribe a golden grin;

The host with someone indistinct

Converses at the door apart,

The nightingales are singing near

The Convent of the Sacred Heart,

And sang within the bloody wood

When Agamemnon cried aloud,

And let their liquid droppings fall

To stain the stiff dishonoured shroud.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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I\'m particularly fascinated by the mysterious geometry of the poem. \"Silent
man in mocha brown sprawls at the window sill & gapes\"; \"...Leaves the room
and reappears outside the window looking in\"; \"The host with someone
indistinct converses at the door apart\"...All this sort of non-Euclidean
geometry makes me think of Dali\'s \"The Persistence of Memory\"--the same
sort of feeling, that is.
Rachel has a new appelation - Rabinovich - is a modern jew. The jews of
old are changed to the decadent jews of today by the death of Christ. It is
these new jews of the roman occupation who killed Christ - Christ who
claimed to be the last and globally sufficient sacrifice. The last
dionysis. There would be no further annual sacrifice. We are now
disassociated from the old revivication of life in the seasons. We are
permanently validated. Our decadence is now our own. It is not the glorious
preamble of our remaking. Decadance is no longer redeemed as the
propitiation of a god. Just as Agememnon\'s death is not the glorious death
of a king in Troy. Or a sacrifice, but the sordid death of an adulterer, a
murderer of his own daughter, a man killed in his bath ignominiously by the
person whose trust he had despoiled, his wife. Agememnon is a false King
sacrifice. He was not supposed to die then - that is one of the operating
ironies of the Orestia. This rupture in moral precedence is the opening
crisis of the play. Its resolution is not ritual but extraordinary. Athena
herself must make a remarkable and singular judgement.
Eliot\'s wife,I believe,cheated on him, and I think the Sweeney poems are a
reflection of the hurt he experienced because of the infidelity. He equated
her behavior with that of whores in a brothel. And, for all his life, I
think, he could not write himself out of that pain.

| Posted on 2011-01-28 | by a guest

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