16 may. 2003

Could anyone imagine a less attractive appeal to religiosity than "Mr. Eliot's Sunday Morning Service"? Here are some lines from the poem:


The sable presbyters approach
The avenue of penitence;
The young are red and pustular
Clutching piaculative pence.         
 
Under the penitential gates
Sustained by staring Seraphim
Where the souls of the devout
Burn invisible and dim.
 
Along the garden-wall the bees        
With hairy bellies pass between
The staminate and pistilate,
Blest office of the epicene.
 
Sweeney shifts from ham to ham
Stirring the water in his bath.        
The masters of the subtle schools
Are controversial, polymath.

O'Hara wrote his poem in 1951, in Ann Arbor. Eliot was still king of Modernism in those days. His poem is not without self-deprecatory humor (Eliot's I mean) but this does not make it more pleasant. That horror of sexuality!