"Eliot dissolves the theological pattern into the lightness of
irony and in dizzying verbal magic." (I. Calvino,Six Memos for the Next Millennium, "Multiplicity")
"And through the dust nebulae, furrowed by the orbits of the constellations,
I could already see the wispy evening mist rise in the streets
of Santhia, the faint light of a street lamp barely outling the
sidewalk in the snow, illuminating for a moment the slim shadow
of Giuseppina Pensotti as she turned the corner past the Customs
House and disappeared." (I. Calvino,Cosmicomics, "How Much Shall We Bet?")
Lightness, the fragility and chance of an individual in the universe.
Calvino speaks of the shadow rather than the substance, the miraculous
fortune of these atoms combining, cells dividing, the dust swirling
to coalesce into a pattern of humanity.
Eliot also, the rhythms of day to day life and the slight insubstantiality
of ordinary existence. Yet his vision is fraught with the futility
of perspective, the impossibility of control over this existence.
S'io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocchè giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s'i'odo il vero,
Senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo.
Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?Ö.
I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
("The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock")