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Tiny_Montgomery
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Clive - Spectre of the Rose
« : 17.06.09 at 15:43 »
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Clive James has a new poem, called Spectre of the Rose, in the latest number of the Times Literary Supplement (TLS), published on Thursday, June 18. The poem is not available online, but visit the TLS website at: entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/the_tls/-
 
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Mike Walters
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Re: Clive - Spectre of the Rose
« Reply #1: 17.06.09 at 17:15 »
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Gosh, that heading gave me an odd frisson!  Some 30 or more years ago, when we were pretentious schoolboys, as opposed to pretentious adults, Andy Victor (occasionally of this parish) and I had a shot at writing songs together, on my part very much under the influence of Messrs Atkin and James.  We gave up very quickly as the songs were uniformly awful, and Andy soon realised that he could write much better ones without any assistance from me.  
 
Anyway, the point of this rambling reminiscence is that the first song we wrote together was called 'Spectre of a [sic, I think] Rose'.  The phrase is, if I recall correctly, taken from T S Eliot, but it still feels slightly spooky after all this time.  Mind you, I imagine that Clive's poem is rather better than my lyric...
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Mike Walters
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Re: Clive - Spectre of the Rose
« Reply #2: 17.06.09 at 17:25 »
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...I see it's also the title of one of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and that the phrase originally came from a poem by Gautier (who I think also used the indefinite article).  Eliot presumably borrowed the phrase, which appears in Little Gidding, from there.  And it was also the title of a 1946 Ben Hecht film so perhaps it's a slightly less odd coincidence than it first seemed.  Nice to think that I was vaguely on Clive's wavelength 30 years ago, though, at least in the selection of the title.
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Jan
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Re: Clive - Spectre of the Rose
« Reply #3: 17.06.09 at 20:24 »
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It looks as though Gautier used both the indefinite and the definite article in the poem.
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naomi
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Re: Clive - Spectre of the Rose
« Reply #4: 18.06.09 at 12:19 »
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Hector Berlioz's setting of Le Spectre de la Rose is one of the greatest works in the French song repertoire.  
I've not attempted it (yet) !
It's from Les Nuits D'Eté, a cycle of six songs on poems by Théophile Gautier.
 
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Kevin Cryan
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Re: Clive - Spectre of the Rose
« Reply #5: 18.06.09 at 20:15 »
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on 17.06.09 at 17:25, Mike Walters wrote:
...I see it's also the title of one of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and that the phrase originally came from a poem by Gautier (who I think also used the indefinite article).  Eliot presumably borrowed the phrase, which appears in Little Gidding, from there.  And it was also the title of a 1946 Ben Hecht film so perhaps it's a slightly less odd coincidence than it first seemed.  Nice to think that I was vaguely on Clive's wavelength 30 years ago, though, at least in the selection of the title.  

 
I'm not going to go into a lengthy discussion about Eliot's use of the "rose" as a symbol. However, by way of demonstrating that Eliot was not haphazardly using a "phrase originally came from a poem by Gautier" because he thought it useful or resonant in the context, I will say is that the rose as a symbol crops up quite often in Eliot's poetry, and that some of his poetry is, in a manner of speaking, haunted by the "spectre of the rose".  
 
There is, for example, the Dantesque multifoliate rose, (symbolic, for Dante as least, of  Paradise)  in The Hollow Men, in Burnt Norton, the "rose-garden",  which, as Morris Weitz  in T.S. Eliot: Time as a Mode of Salvation (Sewanee Review 1952), thought "....symbolizes those moments that show, more than any others, the meeting of the Eternal and the temporal",  in The Dry Salvages the rather difficult to explain "royal rose",  and in Little Gidding the "spectre of the rose", in which the rose, it seems to me, is an emblem associated with the original broken "king at nightfall", Charles 1.  
 
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Kevin Cryan
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Re: Clive - Spectre of the Rose
« Reply #6: 20.06.09 at 21:16 »
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on 17.06.09 at 15:43, Tiny_Montgomery wrote:
Clive James has a new poem, called Spectre of the Rose, in the latest number of the Times Literary Supplement (TLS), published on Thursday, June 18. The poem is not available online, but visit the TLS website at: entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/the_tls/-
 

 
The poem, which I have now read but which, for copyright reasons, I still can't quote from, given subtitle Goethe and Ulrike in Marienbad and this good clue to one way in which the poem can be read, and to the poet's concerns are.
 
In 1822, when he was 74, the dramatist, poet and novelist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe developed a passion for a young girl, the 19-year old Ulrike  von Levetzow, whom he met at Marienbad. It was this that inspired the Trilogie der Leidenschaft, (Trilogy of Passion) a poem sequence composed between 1821 and 1829.  
 
Clive, possibly with Franz Schubert’s setting of Goethe’s Sah ein Knab ein Röslein stehn at the back of his mind, composes kind of poem that might well have turned Trilogie der Leidenschaft into Quartett der Leidenschaft  
 
This knowledge may help the reader to understand the the poem better, but without it, the poem is, I can assure any reader, perfectly understandable.  
 
Kevin Cryan
 
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