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Gerontion Analysis

Author: Poetry of Thomas Stearns Eliot Type: Poetry Views: 1603

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Thou hast nor youth nor age

But as it were an after dinner sleep

Dreaming of both.

Here I am, an old man in a dry month,

Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain.

I was neither at the hot gates

Nor fought in the warm rain

Nor knee deep in the salt marsh, heaving a cutlass,

Bitten by flies, fought.

My house is a decayed house,

And the jew squats on the window sill, the owner,

Spawned in some estaminet of Antwerp,

Blistered in Brussels, patched and peeled in London.

The goat coughs at night in the field overhead;

Rocks, moss, stonecrop, iron, merds.

The woman keeps the kitchen, makes tea,

Sneezes at evening, poking the peevish gutter.

I an old man,

A dull head among windy spaces.

Signs are taken for wonders. "We would see a sign":

The word within a word, unable to speak a word,

Swaddled with darkness. In the juvescence of the year

Came Christ the tiger

In depraved May, dogwood and chestnut, flowering Judas,

To be eaten, to be divided, to be drunk

Among whispers; by Mr. Silvero

With caressing hands, at Limoges

Who walked all night in the next room;

By Hakagawa, bowing among the Titians;

By Madame de Tornquist, in the dark room

Shifting the candles; Fraulein von Kulp

Who turned in the hall, one hand on the door. Vacant shuttles

Weave the wind. I have no ghosts,

An old man in a draughty house

Under a windy knob.

After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now

History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors

And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions,

Guides us by vanities. Think now

She gives when our attention is distracted

And what she gives, gives with such supple confusions

That the giving famishes the craving. Gives too late

What's not believed in, or if still believed,

In memory only, reconsidered passion. Gives too soon

Into weak hands, what's thought can be dispensed with

Till the refusal propagates a fear. Think

Neither fear nor courage saves us. Unnatural vices

Are fathered by our heroism. Virtues

Are forced upon us by our impudent crimes.

These tears are shaken from the wrath-bearing tree.

The tiger springs in the new year. Us he devours. Think at last

We have not reached conclusion, when I

Stiffen in a rented house. Think at last

I have not made this show purposelessly

And it is not by any concitation

Of the backward devils.

I would meet you upon this honestly.

I that was near your heart was removed therefrom

To lose beauty in terror, terror in inquisition.

I have lost my passion: why should I need to keep it

Since what is kept must be adulterated?

I have lost my sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch:

How should I use it for your closer contact?

These with a thousand small deliberations

Protract the profit of their chilled delirium,

Excite the membrane, when the sense has cooled,

With pungent sauces, multiply variety

In a wilderness of mirrors. What will the spider do,

Suspend its operations, will the weevil

Delay? De Bailhache, Fresca, Mrs. Cammel, whirled

Beyond the circuit of the shuddering Bear

In fractured atoms. Gull against the wind, in the windy straits

Of Belle Isle, or running on the Horn,

White feathers in the snow, the Gulf claims,

And an old man driven by the Trades

To a sleepy corner.

Tenants of the house,

Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season.


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

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| Posted on 2017-06-01 | by a guest

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"Gerontion" is a Greek term meaning "an old man."

| Posted on 2016-06-04 | by a guest

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The title does indeed match the poem, \"Gerontion\" stemming from a word that is in the English language, \"Geront\" meaning of or relating to old age. This is a foreshadowing of the persona\'s lament over age that is present during the entire piece.

| Posted on 2013-05-09 | by a guest

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It\'s one of life\'s ironies that poets attempt to put into words all of the different thoughts and feelings that comprise their existence and then others try to distill that down to an easily digested nugget or an essay for a class. Poetry isn\'t about one easy-to-grasp idea. The whole point is to try to parse all the inter-relationships among our intellectual, spiritual, and biological predispositions.
In the stanza that begins \"These with a thousand small deliberations...\" Eliot seems to be continuing with the idea that in aging the old man has lost his passion for life and hasn’t been able to understand the purpose of his existence, but at the same time, Eliot can\'t seem to resist the double entendre of the spider image: \"What will the spider do, Suspend its operations.\" Who doesn\'t see the spider hanging from its silk (“suspended”) at the same time that there is an understanding that the weary old man will continue living in the same workmanlike way that the spider continues spinning its web. It\'s sad; it\'s clever; it\'s ironic. Poetry is about all of the different thoughts, feelings, and instinctual responses that flood our senses and fuel our existence. That\'s the beauty of it.

| Posted on 2011-09-17 | by a guest

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Gerontion: an old man.
See Cardinal Manning\'s poem \"Gerontius\" (same meaning), which was very famous in Eliot\'s youth.
The speaker of the poem (\"Gerontion\") is not an old man - he\'s the human soul (or specifically Eliot\'s soul), \"old\" because near death. He\'s being \"read to by a boy\". Ask: Who is the boy? (Answer: possibly the Christ child, since this is a Christian poem, written about the time Eliot was approaching his conversion - this brings in the reason for the name of the poem and the reference to Manning\'s poem).
Ask: What is the \"house\" that the old man inhabits? (Answer: the bold man is the soul, the house is the body).
\"The goat coughs at night in the field overhead\". Why a goat? Why only at night? What\'s a filed doing overhead? (Answer: the \"goat\" is the constellation Capricorn, the last of the year, which fits with the theme of approaching death and the promise of rebirth; it\'s at night because that\'s when you see the stars, and it\'s overhead because that\'s where stars are).
And so on. Drop me a line :)

| Posted on 2011-02-14 | by a guest

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GERONTION is showing reflection of spiritual bankruptcy of our MODERN SOCIETY. Eliot\'s obscurity is the result of his immense knowledge and understanding it should never be taken as cynic hypothesis.

| Posted on 2010-09-13 | by a guest

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This poem can be quite confusing at the start but to have a better understanding it is critical you understand the pronouns and the meaning of every word. In this poem Eliot quotes and MISQUOTE(possibly deliberately) from people such as Shakespeare and Lancelot Andrewes. Some phrases are rather an arrow pointing to a text to allude to specific ideas. This poem definitely require dedication to understanding it. Even then it is only an opinion.

| Posted on 2010-07-14 | by a guest

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"Gerontion" is Greek for little old man (the disrespectful form)... The poem is a conglomeration of the old man's memories of his unimpressive past, and his speculations on the meaning of life and how people act. Eliot is making a statement on how the greatest wisdom and observations go ignored, dismissed due to the superficial values of our culture, and how often we don't really understand the meaning behind our experiences until much later... when those around us no longer care to listen.

| Posted on 2009-05-25 | by a guest

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How about this last genius that posted reads the poem... "doesn't make any sense"? Sheesh! Generalizing, ignorant, idiot.

| Posted on 2009-03-16 | by a guest

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I will firmly attest that it was not a mistake nor a whimsical fancy to late for the presses to change - it was intended as a prelude to THE WASTE LAND but Pound advised against it. but very very intentional and we can know by reading letters, drafts and hundreds of essays on the poem(s). maybe reading it as a prelude or paired with the waste land will shed new light on its meaning.


| Posted on 2008-09-16 | by a guest

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| Posted on 2008-09-16 | by a guest

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The title, 'Gerontion' means 'little old man' in Greek and is the diminutive and disrespectful form of the Greek word, geron, which means a elderly of respect.

| Posted on 2008-03-11 | by a guest

.: T.S. Elliot's Gerontion :.

The only other thing i could come up with in my reaserch is the. The term Gerontion probably comes from the word Germination which means to grow. The speaker of this poem does grow because he is very old. He has a synical view of the world and is un happy in his old age. That is the best i can come up with

| Posted on 2008-03-06 | by a guest

.: T.S. Elliot's Gerontion :.

This poem doesn't make any sense. The title doesn't match the poem at all. Gerontion is a word that has neve been in the English dictionary. I don't know where T.S. Elliot got it from. He probably made it up himself. This title makes the poem very hard to understand. This is not unexpected because poets tend to lead weird lives, and maybe he was in his own little world when he made the title and he had already sent it to his publisher and it was to late to change. We will never know.

| Posted on 2008-03-06 | by a guest

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