On Mr. Eliot's Sunday Morning Service

Wed Mar 18, 2009

The second stanza of this poem runs:

In the beginning was the Word.
Superfetation of τὸ ἒν,
And at the mensual turn of time
Produced enervate Origen.

An earlier version was:

In the beginning was the Word.
Superfetation of τὸ ἒν,
And at the menstrual turn of time
Produced the castrate Origen.

The changes were Pound’s suggestions, apparently. Generally speaking, Pound’s revisions of Eliot’s poetry tended not to be bowdlerizing; but it’s arguable that they are here. “Menstrual” and “castrate” both better establish the contrast between Origen and Sweeney shifting from ham to ham in his bath at the end.