02 May 2010

Robert Crawford on T.S. Eliot's "Marina"

Just found my favourite lecture at last year's T.S. Eliot International Summer School online: T.S. Eliot's Daughter, held by poet and professor of Scottish literature Robert Crawford. Not only is Marina one of the poems I keep the closest, but Crawford seemed to have a certain (poet's) understanding that really shone through in his lecture, something which I perhaps felt other lectures lacked.

There was a quite special moment afterwards, when Seamus Heaney, to end a rather excited discussion on the meaning of the poem's epigraph Quis hic locus, quae regio, quae mundi plaga? (*) in relation to the rest of the poem's recalling the recognition scene in Shakespeare's Pericles (**), suddenly said that it must be understood as a tuning fork for the rest of the poem, and nothing else. Some of us sighed out of gratitude for that on point remark.

TSE reading Marina.

(*) "What place is this, what kingdom, what shores of the world?" Taken from Seneca the Younger's tragedy Hercules Furens, where these words are uttered by Hercules himself as he recovers from the insanity during which he has murdered his wife and children. 

(**) Pericles, in mourning for his wife and for Marina, the daughter who is for long thought to be dead, has left his kingdom for the sea. To hopefully rouse him from his despair, a young woman is put before him to sing. As she tells him her life story they both realize that they are in fact father and daughter.