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For liberation – not less of love but expanding

Of love beyond desire, and so liberation

From the future as well as the past.

In Asphodel, That Greeny Flower, sin is also a prerequisite to redemption. In Williams’ poem, it is art that has redemptive power. Asphodel, a greeny flower, is the symbol for the speaker’s artlessness and endurance. Love is closest to art because to Williams’ speaker love and the imagination add up to a wholeness, a oneness, “swift as the light / to avoid destruction” (Williams 8). Williams sees art and love as having redemptive power because they are an attempt to bring light to the darkness, darkness of sin (human nature) and darkness of mortality. As he says in Asphodel, “So let us love / confident as is the light / in its struggle with darkness” in reference to love. In reference to art, he suggests that it is the only light that can bring meaning and fulfillment to mortal existence, in fact it is the only manner of immortality to survive the thunder bolt of death:

The speaker in Eliot’s poem subtly persuades us to seek redemption by outlining the sins of the past and the common future fate and past fate of all sinners. He also explains the process that occurs when we reach old age, one which is merciless regarding our past transgressions, “First, the cold friction of expiring sense / Without enchantment, offering no promise / But bitter tastelessness of shadow fruit . As body and soul begin to fall asunder. / Second, the conscious impotence of rage / At human folly, and the laceration / Of laughter at what


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ELIOT AND WILLIAMS. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 04:13, August 23, 2017, from
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