nedjelja, 07.01.2007.


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Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together 360
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
—But who is that on the other side of you?


Eliot's note for line 360

The following lines were stimulated by the account of one of the Antarctic expeditions (I forget which, but I think one of Shackleton's): it was related that the party of explorers, at the extremity of their strength, had the constant delusion that there was one more member than could actually be counted.

Commentator's note

B. C. Southam has traced the account to chapter 10 of Sir Ernest Shackleton's book South (1919).
See also the account of meeting Jesus on the road to Emmaus in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 24, starting with verse 13.

1. And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
2. And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
3. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
4. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.

Part V
Lines 359-365

The speaker in this section does not seem to be the main narrator. The speaker talks of a presence who is felt, if not seen, when the speaker and the spoken to are seperated from each other (line 361.) Indeed we are not sure if the two ever walk together as the other and the mysterious figure do. Left unsaid is whether this figure is the cause of the seperation.
The third appears to be a ghost, its walk described as a glide. The presence is hooded and the speaker cannot tell whether the figure is a man or a woman but Eliot has previously given us a clue. In his note to line 46 Eliot associates the hooded figure with the Hanged God of Frazer. So here we find the hanged man that Madame Sosostris could not see in the Tarot reading (lines 54-55.) What is mysterious to Madame Sosostris and the speaker becomes, with effort, accessible to us.
While the public reading of this section put forth by Eliot and many critics is the resurrected Christ's journey to Emmaus with his disciples (told in The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 24) Eliot's notes cannot always be treated as a final authority on his meaning. His notes to line 46 and to Part V mention Emmaus yet his note to line 360 does not mention Emmaus or Christ at all. This latter note seems to be a clue that that there may be a more private reading possible to this section. James E. Miller, Jr. provides us with one such private meaning involving Jean Verdenal:
It is a safe assumption the Vivienne Eliot learned early in her marriage that she was in some obscure sense competing with someone whose presence was more felt than seen. The passage above is not so shrill as the monologue in "A Game of Chess," [monologue starts at line 111] but there is the same nervousness and puzzlement--and nagging. Most telling, perhaps, is the line, "I do not know whether a man or a woman." [line 364] The silent party in this unequal exchange surely knows, for we have just witnessed his anguish over the incontrovertible fact--"He who was living is now dead." [line 328] The other who is walking by his side is the enduring memory which will not die, a memory as intrusive in a marriage as a physical presence.


Sir Ernest Shackleton

The last paragraph of the chapter entitled "Across South Georgia"
When I look back at those days I have no doubt that Providence guided us, not only across those snowfields, but across the storm-white sea that seperated Elephant Island from our landing-place on South Georgia. I know that during that long and racking march of thirty-six hours over the unnamed mountains and glaciers of South Georgia it seemed to me often that we were four, not three. I said nothing to my companions on the point, but afterwards Worsley said to me, "Boss, I had a curious feeling on the march that there was another person with us." Crean confessed to the same idea. One feels "the dearth of human words, the roughness of mortal speech" in trying to describe things intangible, but a record of our journeys would be incomplete without a reference to a subject very near to our hearts.

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton (1874-1922)

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