Haas Scholars

Armen Davoudian

'Your Hair Wet, I Could Not / Speak:' The Self-Elegizing of the Silent Muse in Eliot

The Waste Land is a metapoem that doubts whether it is a poem: a paradoxical achievement of expression through expressing an inability to express. This antithetical way of writing poetry makes new relations among different tropes possible. For instance, iron–which normally either precludes or retrospectively denies pathos–can become elegy as Eliot complains that he cannot sing, thereby singing. Armen senses a similar concern in Eliot’s other poetry, and he wonders, for example, whether the many paradoxes in Four Quartets can be explained in terms of this argument. He also wants to study Eliot’s use of self-reflexivity (e.g. in his imagery of hair) and self-allusion, both structural and thematic. Ideally, analyzing how Eliot dramatizes this anxiety in his poems should generate some theories about why he felt it in the first place.

  • Major: English
  • Mentor: Professor Charles Altieri