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Can anyone help me paraphrase "Aunt Helen" and "Politics"?
Posted by: K P (192.168.128.---)
Date: February 12, 2006 03:30AM

Can anyone help me paraphrase a few of these T.S.Eliot's and W.B.Yeats's poem? Also a little help with the meanings would be appreciated.

Aunt Helen

Miss Helen Slingsby was my maiden aunt,
And lived in a small house near a fashionable square
Cared for by servants to the number of four.
Now when she died there was silence in heaven
And silence at her end of the street.
The shutters were drawn and the undertaker wiped his feet--
He was aware that this sort of thing had occurred before.
The dogs were handsomely provided for,
But shortly afterwards the parrot died too.
The Dresden clock continued ticking on the mantelpiece,
And the footman sat upon the dining-table
Holding the second housemaid on his knees--
Who had always been so careful while her mistress lived.


----------

Politics

'In our time the destiny of man presents its meanings in political terms.' -Thomas Mann
How can I, that girl standing there,
My attention fix
On Roman or on Russian
Or on Spanish politics?
Yet here's a travelled man that knows
What he talks about,
And there's a politician
That has both read and thought,
And maybe what they say is true
Of war and war's alarms,
But O that I were young again
And held her in my arms.


My E-mail: knp_02@hotmail.com

Thank you so much.


Re: Can anyone help me paraphrase "Aunt Helen" and "Politics"?
Posted by: Hugh Clary (192.168.128.---)
Date: February 13, 2006 12:07PM

I see them both as using a bit of whimsy to discuss what may seem to others to be extremely important issues.

Yeats is responding to Mann's claim that the destiny of mankind was tied to whatever political issues were important at that time. Yeats scoffs at that viewpoint, saying that love is, always has been, and always will be a more important destiny of man.

Far be it from me to find fault with a poet as fine as WBY, but ...

How can I, that girl standing there,
My attention fix
On Roman or on Russian
Or on Spanish politics?

Surely it must grate on everyone's sense of grammar to read that sentence. Is Yeats saying that HE is the girl standing there? Or, how can he fix his attention on politics with such a lovely creature nearby? The inversion in pursuit of the rhyme is confusing to the reader, I mean.

Eliot goes on about what happens in a particular household when its matron passes away. When she died, there was a silence in heaven (see Revelation 8, "And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour."), so we have to infer the aunt was an especially fine and important person. Everyone is taken care of after she is gone, but the clock still keeps ticking for the rest of us, all the better for the footman and the 2nd housemaid, who did not dare 'fool around' while the old dame was alive.

Yet another bit of whimsy about love being the most important of issues, no?


Re: Can anyone help me paraphrase "Aunt Helen" and "Politics"?
Posted by: PamAdams (192.168.128.---)
Date: February 13, 2006 12:56PM

There's something almost 'Eleanor Rigby-like' about Aunt Helen. Did anyone care that she died? (other than the parrot?)

pam


Re: Can anyone help me paraphrase "Aunt Helen" and "Politics"?
Posted by: K P (192.168.128.---)
Date: February 14, 2006 04:33AM

Thank you very much for your kindly help.


Re: Can anyone help me paraphrase "Aunt Helen" and "Politics"?
Posted by: jerrygarner7 (192.168.128.---)
Date: February 16, 2006 01:26PM

Hopefully, Hugh gave KP enough info so the homework can be completed and I
can pursue the 'Klang,' that Pam Adams threw open:

Aunt Helen

It certainly does remind one of 'Eleanor Rigby,' and 'Richard Corey'-why?
The cast of characters in the poem and how they feel about the deceased.
The reader's of 'Corey' and 'Rigby' have only second hand information about
the internal events of those two parties.
(We determine that no one knew 'anything' about Corey.)
The 'klang' of the maid sittin on the footman's knees (a behavior involving two
people) has a strong association with Rigby bending down to pick up the rice.

Same topic, approached with different formats, but still similiar...
Are the topics of interest because our own deaths are so personal and no one
will ever know the 'essential self' within us...
Don't know, but the deceased becomes secondary to the other characters in the
poems; and the reader's mines slide away from the deceased into thought of their own mortality.


Re: Can anyone help me paraphrase "Aunt Helen" and "Politics"?
Posted by: Hugh Clary (192.168.128.---)
Date: February 17, 2006 11:35AM

Klang?

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