I have a poetry essay to do on T.S Eliot's "Preludes"
Im in desperate need of some help with the analysis of the poem.
I need guidence in identifying its tone and mood. who is the speaker? and what is the scene or occasion?
i really need help
Bianca, there is some information here:
From "A student's guide to the Selected poems of T.S.Eliot" by B.C. Southam.
On the manuscript they were originally entitled "Preludes in Roxbury" Roxbury was a sleazy suburb of Boston within visiting distance of Harvard. He was influenced by the novels of Charles-Louis Philippe. He also acknowledged a literary, imaginative debt to Beaudelaire: "It is not merely in the use of imagery of the sordid life of a great metropolis, but the elevation of such imagery to the first intensity - presenting it as it is, and yet making it reprisent much more than itself - that Beaudelaire has created a mode of release and expression for other men" Eliot also pointed to the autobiographical origin of his 'urban imagery' in an address entitled 'The influence of landscape upon the poet' 1959. Refering to his home town, St. Louis, Miss., he said 'we lived in a neighbourhood which had become shabby to a degree approaching slumness.....for nine months of the year my scenery was almost exclusively urban.'
I hope this is useful.
Try reading the poem out loud. Does it sound happy, sad, pensive?
Is the speaker going to jump off a cliff or lead a parade? The tone and mood are in the word choice, the subject choice, etc.
As an example, in Section 1, Eliot sees 'the grimy scraps of withered leaves.' Is that how you normally see fallen leaves? A poem with a happy mood might talk about 'crunching through leaves' or connect them with the smell of a bonfire.
As for 'scene or occasion,' ask yourself 'what are these people doing?' Pretend this is the description of a movie. Where are these people? (Hint- where would you find grimy fallen leaves?)
by Thomas Stearns Eliot
The winter evening settles down
With smell of steaks in passageways.
The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
The grimy scraps
Of withered leaves about your feet
And newspapers from vacant lots;
The showers beat
On broken blinds and chimney-pots,
And at the corner of the street
A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
And then the lighting of the lamps.
The morning comes to consciousness
Of faint stale smells of beer
From the sawdust-trampled street
With all its muddy feet that press
To early coffee-stands.
With the other masquerades
That time resumes,
One thinks of all the hands
That are raising dingy shades
In a thousand furnished rooms.
You tossed a blanket from the bed,
You lay upon your back, and waited;
You dozed, and watched the night revealing
The thousand sordid images
Of which your soul was constituted;
They flickered against the ceiling.
And when all the world came back
And the light crept up between the shutters,
And you heard the sparrows in the gutters,
You had such a vision of the street
As the street hardly understands;
Sitting along the bed's edge, where
You curled the papers from your hair,
Or clasped the yellow soles of feet
In the palms of both soiled hands.
His soul stretched tight across the skies
That fade behind a city block,
Or trampled by insistent feet
At four and five and six o'clock;
And short square fingers stuffing pipes,
And evening newspapers, and eyes
Assured of certain certainties,
The conscience of a blackened street
Impatient to assume the world.
I am moved by fancies that are curled
Around these images, and cling:
The notion of some infinitely gentle
Infinitely suffering thing.
Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh;
The worlds revolve like ancient women
Gathering fuel in vacant lots.
Who is the speaker, indeed. And who the listener.
You curled the papers from your hair
Well, I think Preludes is another reflection of The Hollow Men. Still talking about this world decaying. In the last few lines:
"Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh;
The worlds revolve like ancient women
Gathering fuel in vacant lots."
Fuel here is referred to as sticks, and vacant lots I believe would be excluded, deserted nothingness. How can you gather sticks in a place like that? "the worlds revolve like ancient women"-saying that this is like groundhog, it repeats itself, us gathering things from a place that has total emptiness, nothing is left there, or it wouldn't be said to be a "vacant lot". We keep searching in a place where there is total emptiness, and not realizing that it won't fulfill us.
We keep searching in a place where there is total emptiness,
and not realizing that it won't fulfill us.
It's really a nice but difficult poem. Could you please kindly assist me by giving some clues to understand and to be able to analyze it. I like to get help to find out the theme, the setting, character, content, conflict, and so on. I believe that is very useful for me to do the analyzing assignment
Thank you very much for your kindly help
Nguyen, click on "flat view" below your post and read the responses above yours.
Thank you for the link, I really appreciate the help that you not only gave to Bianca but all of us as well. Im writing my Prelim paper for Matric tomorrow and due to a severe case of Pnemonia I was not able to attend class for a few days, thus missing the poem. So you have really helped me. Thank you.
Then why does the world revolve like ancient women? Is he saying the women are foolish or something? What is the relation between all the four sections? I know it's just like a song (prelude) but I cannot connect them.