By Michael Edwards (auth.)
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Additional resources for Poetry and Possibility
Hence the wonder when an angel declares: There is a place (If ancient and prophetic fame in heav'n Err not), another world, the happy seat Of some new race called man (II 345-8) (where the parentheses suspend and isolate for consideration the phrase 'There is a place'); and when another pauses to view near heaven and 'hanging in a golden chain I This pendent world' (II 1051-2), or is overwhelmed in contemplation of an earth 'how like to heav'n', of a 'Terrestrial heav'n, danced round by other heav'ns' (IX 99, 103).
It is, clearly, a form of wit, of the wit that Eliot, in the course of his Marvell essay, indicated in 'Lafontaine', and that La Fontaine, in his preface and in 'Le Pouvoir des Fables', 'The Power of Fables' (VIII 4), may, reciprocally, have helped Eliot to define. 'Uncertain charme, un air agreable qu'on peut donner a toutes sortes de sujets, meme les plus serieux', 'a certain charm, an agreeable air that one can give to all manner of subjects, even the most serious', could well prompt an 'alliance of levity and seriousness', while 'graces legeres', 'slight graces', and 'ces badineries ...
The apparent gravity of the event slows one's reading of the penultimate line, so that the eloquence of its u's and r's is brought to bear, and each word seems wondrous with designation. One remembers another well known line in the Rape, where the pouring of coffee into coffee cups is also transfigured, in this case by overt hyperbole, in the rendering: 'While China's Earth receives the smoking Tyde' (III 110); and one notes again the effect of a simple inversion, which, while prefiguring the temporal order of the repair, endows the word 'masse' with a new grandeur at the end of the phrase and of the line.