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Analysis and comments on Preludes by T.S. Eliot

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Comment 12 of 122, added on December 20th, 2005 at 10:43 AM.

“Preludes” is one of my favorite poems. It touches something deep in my
heart; it makes me ache for the despair of humanity. No one can quite
capture the grunge like Eliot. When you know the value of each human life
to its own self, when you think of the dreams and ideals of childhood and
adolescence, and how life has a way of grinding it out like the butt of a
cigarette, the poem is heartbreaking. What is the story behind the woman
whose soul is constituted of “a thousand sordid images”? Who stands behind
all those hands raising dingy shades? Somebody’s mother, brother, daughter?
Each a human life that will never be repeated, each trapped on one of the
least of those worlds that “revolve like ancient women gathering fuel in
vacant lots”…lost, hopeless, hurt and dirty.
It is the “infinitely gentle, infinitely suffering thing” that gives the
poem its meaning. It is the “infinitely gentle, infinitely suffering thing”
that gives life on this planet any meaning at all. If you know the core of
Eliot’s soul, then you understand what he is talking about.


Merril from United States
Comment 11 of 122, added on October 28th, 2005 at 8:03 AM.

I would like to explain what the ‘mood’ of the poem exactly is. T .S. Eliot
wrote this poem sometime in 1915 when the First World War had already begun
and was bringing about a great deal of social change, most of it unwelcome.
All the ‘past’ glory of England was turning into ‘present’ turmoil and
there was little inspiration to look forward to in ordinary life for poets
like Eliot and Pound. Their state of mental unrest finds clear expression
through their poetry. When Eliot gives the title ‘Preludes’ to this poem,
it must be understood that Eliot wanted this poem to introduce his new
style of approach to his audience, his poetry being markedly different from
that of the previous age. In fact, Preludes can be seen as an introductory
note to the poet’s magnum opus, “The Wasteland”.

One must carefully note the collocation of words and images in the poem
here. Eliot paints the landscape of his mind in carefully crafted verses.
They almost become a defining statement on the kind of life that prevailed
in many parts of England and the Western countries then.

The first clue to the mood of the poem comes in the first line itself. Each
word in this poem is part of the poet’s mental landscape. One must
understand that poetry reflects a poet’s attitude; therefore it is the
poet’s personal mood which shapes the mood of the poem as well. The word
‘winter’ symbolizes harshness, coldness and lifelessness. The poet is
therefore obviously not in one of his happy moods, having referred to
winter in the very first line of the poem. The dreariness of life is
reflected here. To winter is added the image of evening, which marks the
approach of night, again, symbolizing the approach of darkness into the
very lives of people. And Eliot says that this ‘winter evening’ settles
down, as if it to suggest that it is going to be this way only from now on.
The mood too is “settled” therefore in the very first line.

The smell of steaks in passageways suggests the mundane, ordinary nature of
life. Like what I said in the previous post, modern poets are primarily
preoccupied with the day-to-day life and utilise it as material for their
poetry. The smell of steaks pervades the air in passageways therefore, is
like how monotony pervades the lives of people. People eat the same steaks
everyday and every house by the passage cooks the same too!

Thus the burnt-out ends of cigarettes, the smoky days, the grimy scraps,
the withered leaves, the vacant lots, broken blinds, lonely cab horse are
all symbols that signify the monotony and dreariness of life. This is how I
interpret each image:

Burnt-out ends: People burnt out of all their vitality like a cigarette
butt.

Smoky days: Hazy days; the vision of man is blurred when the air is filled
with smoke; it also stifles breath- suggestive of poor living conditions.

Grimy scraps: Suggesting waste, rubbish and therefore wasted lives.

Vacant lots: void in the lives of people, void of meaning, void of purpose,
etc.

Broken blinds: suggestive of broken lives; of people unable to pull them
selves together and crumbling under emotional pressure or for whatever
other reason.

Lonely cab horse: also loneliness of man, the poet too included; each is
suffering singularly; embittered souls.

From this one can clearly understand what the mood of the poem is like.
Interpreting hidden meanings in the poem are essential to a complete
understanding of the poem and the poet’s attitude and that of the Age which
he represents. This explains why Shakespeare never wrote such things as
Eliot did. Reading the poem in the backdrop of history always helps. Of
course, every poet attempts to only generalize his personal experience and
therefore this poem may mean different things to different people owing to
the light in which they view it. It’d indeed be nice to know from the
readers what other relevance this poem might possibly have.


Vidya Venkat from India
Comment 10 of 122, added on October 17th, 2005 at 1:38 PM.

Structure is the fromal asspect of a poem seperated from form

including the arrangement and developement of images, metaphors and

various statements and situations in relation to the theme. Some of the

Structures used are Ambiguity, double or multiple meanings attached to

words or situations, and then the lighting of the lamps, Symbolism, a word


or image that signafies something other than what it represents, raising

dingy shades in a thousand furnished rooms, Irony, statement that

contadicts the actuak attitude of the speaker or a situation that turns out


different than whats expected, you tossed a blanket from the bed you lay

upon your back and waited...you curled the papers from your hair or

clasped the yellow soles of your feet in the palms of both soiled hands.



I believe the meaning of the first Prelude is that Eliot is trying to
explain

the seasons in one poem. He says the winter evening settles down

(winter)..the burnt-out ends of smokey days(summer)..wiethered leaves

about your feet(fall)...the showers beat down(spring)..

Prelude I think that he is explaing in the first paragraph the morning
after a big

party and the in the second he follows with almost the same theme except
the

party is in a big hall. For the third Prelude I believe hes explaing the
morning

after a long night of work that needed to be done. The last Prelude I
believe

that he is trying to explain the presence of a spirit watching over a busy
world

filled with images of workers.


Eghbal Rezai from Iran
Comment 9 of 122, added on September 18th, 2005 at 12:05 AM.

Not sure when it was written, but it sounds to me like a poem about the
depression. I liked it. a lot.

A person from Australia
Comment 8 of 122, added on August 16th, 2005 at 1:56 AM.

we're doing this poem at the moment in school [i live in sydney btw] and
it's a nice poem. t.s.eliot is interestingly depressing. is it just me or
has anyone else noticed 't.s.eliot' is an anagram for 'toilets'? cept his
work isn't too crappy ;)

christine from Australia
Comment 7 of 122, added on August 1st, 2005 at 5:34 AM.

anyone that thinks this doesnt make sense shouldnt be posting anything on
this sight
this poem exentuates and articulates the hardship and true filth of the
modern world. At a time when the world was blown away by the ramifications
of a modern world only a select view were able to express the emotions and
hash realities attached to this world. This is one of a many amazing poems
wrote at an amazing time by an amazing poet.

bedz
Comment 6 of 122, added on June 13th, 2005 at 12:27 AM.

my golly, this poem sucked! its completely irrelevant, i mean, which city
has "sawdust roads". city life, boring?? i dont think so!! farmer john will
happily tell u that!

Terrance from Canada
Comment 5 of 122, added on May 22nd, 2005 at 4:04 PM.

thank yu for the meny gud times, i had have, knowing yu is much nice!
Liason.

Leonardo da Mince Meat from Micronesia
Comment 4 of 122, added on April 21st, 2005 at 7:13 AM.

This poem made absolutely no sense at all.

Brandon from United States
Comment 3 of 122, added on November 18th, 2004 at 8:38 AM.

I studied this for A-level 40 years ago but I didn't realise what a nice
poem it was until I looked at the first stanza with seven and eight year
olds. TSEliot - good poet.

peter cranefield

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Information about Preludes

Poet: T.S. Eliot
Poem: 3. Preludes
Volume: Prufrock and Other Observations
Year: 1917
Added: Jan 31 2004
Viewed: 26485 times
Poem of the Day: Sep 26 2007


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