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Thomas Conolly

Is the stanza from "A Fair Image on a Gold Medal" describing her receiving the medal from the Queen? If so I wonder where the ceremony took place: "Behind her the curved land"?

The T.S Eliot story is fascinating, though I bet in reality he dropped his change and made a buffoon of picking it up. Nice to see humble poets using public transport though.

JRWB

I'd been reading and re-reading the 'Gold Medal' poem trying to work just that out. It sounds almost like an Olympian medal; that stanza runs into the next to say that the fire 'must be saluted', the curved land evokes a race track, it talks about her 'flesh transmuted' and being weak when she receives it, as if the whole thing has been a physical effort.

And yet, the Queen's medal is called the Queen's Gold Medal, and it goes on to say:

In sovereign splendour
New meaning was revealed:
It was not, to her wonder,
Mere poetry she held.

I've read up on it now though and I think it's intentionally comparing the act of writing to physical exercise. Apparently the medal has a design on it of "Truth emerging from her well and holding in her right hand the divine flame of inspiration - Beauty is truth and truth beauty". So the "She" is both the recipient of the medal, and Truth on the medal.

I'm afraid I'm not altogether sure whether Pitter got on the bus herself afterwards, but that's not the important thing; it's more startling that Eliot was doing so in the first place. She didn't like him, incidentally.

dearieme

I hadn't known Miss Pitter's patter, so thank you. Mind you "Poetry, like all passion, seeks for peace" is tosh.

JRWB

I agree it might sound tosh, but I think she's getting at something quite subtle with her verse. Often she seems slightly twee, the gardening, cat poems etc. the small, homeliness of her expression. But there are greater issues at stake in these.

'Poetry, like all passion, seeks for peace' I don't think is making any claim of pacifism. Just resolution of a kind. The water 'mirrors' the eyes that look into it, it doesn't stop the eyes from burning and weeping, but by placing them in the representation of the pool their state is made fixed, and that is a kind of resolution of its own; a peace. Like the passion, the struggle and pain is there to reveal the opposite state.

dearieme

Well, she could be referring to religion - the Passion of the Christ, Eternal Peace... Or heughmagandie - from the hurly-burly of the chaise longue to the deep, deep peace of the marriage bed. But probably it's just tosh.

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