La Figlia Che Piange T. S. Eliot, 1888 – 1965
O quam te memorem virgo
Stand on the highest pavement of the stair—
Lean on a garden urn—
Weave, weave the sunlight in your hair—
Clasp your flowers to you with a pained surprise—
Fling them to the ground and turn
With a fugitive resentment in your eyes:
But weave, weave the sunlight in your hair.
So I would have had him leave,
So I would have had her stand and grieve,
So he would have left
As the soul leaves the body torn and bruised,
As the mind deserts the body it has used.
I should find
Some way incomparably light and deft,
Some way we both should understand,
Simple and faithless as a smile and shake of the hand.
She turned away, but with the autumn weather
Compelled my imagination many days,
Many days and many hours:
Her hair over her arms and her arms full of flowers.
And I wonder how they should have been together!
I should have lost a gesture and a pose.
Sometimes these cogitations still amaze
The troubled midnight and the noon’s repose.
Questions to consider:
- The poet is presenting the first few lines as if he is a director instructing an actress on her actions.
What is the effect of this with regard to the intention of the poet?
- What is implied in the words “fugitive resentment”?
- How does Eliot, throughout this poem, emphasise the interpretation of the reader as being just as or even more important that the poet’s interpretation?