Why does the narrator of T. S. Eliot's poem "Marina" say "let me/ Resign my life for this life ..."

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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T. S. Eliot's poem "Marina" is based on a play by William Shakespeare, Pericles, Prince of Tyre. In this play, the protagonist Pericles survives a rather improbable series of shipwrecks. In the second, his wife Thaisa appears to die and is cast into the waves to calm the storm. She is revived when her body washes up onto shore and she becomes a priestess of the goddess Diana. Later, Pericles' daughter is kidnapped and Pericles gives up his old life as king and takes on the life of a beggar, wandering and mourning his lost daughter. Eventually, he is reunited with daughter and wife, and regains his kingdom. 

The poem is a deeply religious one, written after Eliot's conversion to Christianity. In the poem, the narrator remembers the storm and the apparent death of his wife, and mourns the loss of his daughter. He views the temporal world as one in in which death and decay are inevitable; only God, standing outside time is not subject to mutability. While what he wants is to exchange the human world of sorrow and loss for the divine world, he cannot, as he is human. Instead, the best he can manage is renouncing the world of power and wealth for an ascetic life, stripped to a minimum necessary to sustain life. He renounces his old life and even speech itself for a life as a wandering beggar, but in a typically Christian allegory, his renunciation of his worldly life is the birth of a new life for him, in particular his reunion with his daughter Marina and wife, which comes about through grace. 

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