“He was familiar with the anfractuous arguments that her love for him could prompt her to wield.”*

*from “A Fine Balance “(1995), by Rohinton Mistry.

From: Online Etymology Dictionary:

“anfractuous (adj.)

1620s, “full of windings and turnings,” from Latin anfractuosus “roundabout, winding,” from anfractus “a winding, turning, a bending round,” especially “a circuitous route,” also figuratively, in rhetoric, “circumlocution,” from am(bi)– “around” (from PIE root *ambhi- “around”) + fractus, past participle of frangere “to break” (from PIE root *bhreg- “to break”). T.S. Eliot uses it in the French sense “craggy,” which probably he got from Laforgue. Related: Anfractuosity (1590s).”

From: genius.com:

“This is the first of Eliot’s ‘Sweeney’ poems, originally appearing in his second collection published in 1919.

The name may have been derived from the name the nineteenth-century ‘penny dreadful’ comic character, Sweeney Todd, the ‘demon barber’. In the poem Sweeney holds a razor, so the connection makes sense. Sweeney as a character has appeared in other Eliot poems, for example, ‘Sweeney Among the Nightingales’ and briefly in ‘The Waste Land’.

Eliot’s Sweeney is a primitive version of man, apelike in appearance, bringing to mind homo erectus. It could also be a pun on ‘erection’. Sweeney appears to be in a brothel. He is, in short, a caricature — a vulgar modern man, a mixture of comic and sinister.

The poem comprises eleven quatrains, with an ABCB rhyme scheme. The simplicity of the structure is in contrast to the complex content. As the annotations show, interpretation is imprecise and inconclusive.

3. Sweeney Erect

“And the trees about me,

Let them be dry and leafless; let the rocks

Groan with continual surges; and behind me,

Make all a desolation. Look, look, wenches!

PAINT me a cavernous waste shore

Cast in the unstilled Cyclades,

Paint me the bold anfractuous rocks

Faced by the snarled and yelping seas…”

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