"A wilderness of mirrors?" (1)
Below: Another painting from the Paris of Stein and Toklas, but this one hangs in England's Imperial War Museum, not at 27 Rue de Fleurus:


William Orpen, The Signing of Peace in the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles, 28th June 1919



"A wilderness of mirrors?" (2)
Eliot's poem
Sources
Gerontion
geron (Greek, "old man")
    Thou hast nor youth nor age
But as it were an after dinner sleep
Dreaming of both.
    Thou hast nor youth nor age,
But as it were an after-dinner's sleep
Dreaming on both;
  — Shakespeare, Measure for Measure III.1.32-34
Here I am, an old man in a dry month,
Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain.
I was neither at the hot gates
Nor fought in the warm rain
Nor knee deep in the salt marsh, heaving a cutlass,
Bitten by flies, fought.
My house is a decayed house,
And the jew squats on the window sill, the owner,
Spawned in some estaminet of Antwerp,
Blistered in Brussels, patched and peeled in London.
The goat coughs at night in the field overhead;
Rocks, moss, stonecrop, iron, merds.
The woman keeps the kitchen, makes tea,
Sneezes at evening, poking the peevish gutter.
                                        I an old man,
A dull head among windy spaces.
"Here he sits, in a dry month, old and blind, being
read to by a country boy, longing for rain"
  — A. C. Benson, Edward Fitzgerald (1905)
[Fitzgerald wrote The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (1859)]






"I really do like to sit in this doleful place with a good fire,
a cat and dog on the rug, and an old woman in the kitchen.
This is all my live-stock. The house is yet damp as last year."
  — Letter from Fitzgerald to Frederick Tennyson,
    quoted by Benson in Edward Fitzgerald
Signs are taken for wonders. “We would see a sign!”
"Signs are taken for wonders. 'Master, we would fain
see a sign,' that is, a miracle."
  — from a Nativity Sermon by Lancelot Andrewes
(preacher at the court of James I), quoting Matthew 12:38–
    "Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered,
    saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee."
The word within a word, unable to speak a word,
Swaddled with darkness. In the juvescence of the year
Came Christ the tiger
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with
God, and the Word was God. — John 1:1
In depraved May, dogwood and chestnut, flowering judas,

"The Potomac and its tributaries squandered beauty . . . Here
and there a Negro log cabin alone disturbed the dogwood and
the judas-tree . . . The tulip and the chestnut tree gave no sense
of struggle against a stingy nature . . . No European spring
had shown him the same intermixtureof delicate grace and
passionate depravity that marked the Maryland May."
  — Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (1918)
To be eaten, to be divided, to be drunk
Among whispers; by Mr. Silvero
With caressing hands, at Limoges
Who walked all night in the next room;
By Hakagawa, bowing among the Titians;
By Madame de Tornquist, in the dark room
Shifting the candles; Fräulein von Kulp
Who turned in the hall, one hand on the door. Vacant shuttles
Weave the wind. I have no ghosts,
An old man in a draughty house
Under a windy knob.

After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now
History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors
And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions,
Guides us by vanities. Think now
She gives when our attention is distracted
And what she gives, gives with such supple confusions
That the giving famishes the craving. Gives too late
What’s not believed in, or if still believed,







"My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and are spent
without hope. O remember that my life is wind: mine eye shall
no more see good." — Job 7: 6-7
In memory only, reconsidered passion. Gives too soon
Into weak hands, what’s thought can be dispensed with
Till the refusal propagates a fear. Think
Neither fear nor courage saves us. Unnatural vices
Are fathered by our heroism. Virtues
Are forced upon us by our impudent crimes.
These tears are shaken from the wrath-bearing tree.
"O gentle child, beautiful as thou wert,
Why didst thou leave the trodden paths of men
Too soon, and with weak hands though mighty heart
Dare the unpastured dragon in his den?"
  — Shelley, Adonais (his elegy for Keats)
The tiger springs in the new year. Us he devours. Think at last
We have not reached conclusion, when I
Stiffen in a rented house. Think at last
I have not made this show purposelessly
And it is not by any concitation
Of the backward devils
I would meet you upon this honestly.


"Now to my tragic business; look you, brother,
I have not fashion'd this only for show
And useless property;"
  — Thomas Middleton, The Revenger's Tragedy (c1606)
I that was near your heart was removed therefrom
To lose beauty in terror, terror in inquisition.
I have lost my passion: why should I need to keep it
Since what is kept must be adulterated?
I have lost my sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch:
How should I use them for your closer contact?
These with a thousand small deliberations
Protract the profit of their chilled delirium,
Excite the membrane, when the sense has cooled,
With pungent sauces, multiply variety
In a wilderness of mirrors. What will the spider do,
Oh come not near me, sir, I shall defile you:
I am that of your blood was taken from you
For your better health; look no more upon't,
But cast it to the ground regardlessly:
  — Middleton and Rowley, The Changeling (c1622)
Suspend its operations, will the weevil
Delay? De Bailhache, Fresca, Mrs. Cammel, whirled
Beyond the circuit of the shuddering Bear
In fractured atoms. Gull against the wind, in the windy straits
Of Belle Isle, or running on the Horn,
White feathers in the snow, the Gulf claims,
And an old man driven by the Trades
To a sleepy corner.

                            Tenants of the house,
Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season.
                . . . fly where men feel
The burning axletree, and those that suffer
Beneath the chariot of the Snowy Bear:
  — George Chapman, Bussy D'Ambois (c1604)

THANKS TO bartleby.com AND Ian Lancashire, Representative Poetry Online ("http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poem/777.html")