THE WINTER evening settles down
With smell of steaks in passageways.
Six o’clock.
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.

Analysis, meaning and summary of T.S. Eliot's poem Preludes


  1. Kimja Nahin says:

    Prelude is indeed an interesting poem.If analysed stylistically,especially the first stanza, it contains a lot of stylistic devices.

  2. pratik ranjan says:

    the poem was composed in about 1915 .. it encompases 4 broad divisions with the first two n last two being vry similar . the 1st 2 preludes unload the mundane urban squalor which is suggested to be in a decadent state by usage of words like “winter evening ” , ” burntout stubs ” , “stale .. ” … etc .
    the third prelude suggests prostitution in a vague manner ..

  3. Subrata Ray says:

    Preludes initiates waste-land.It projects spiritual decay,and turning human civilization to primitive -sense pleasure , seconded by the dominance of base -instincts
    The poet is undone to share his own race .Modern man knows nothing but the demand of physical appetite .The totality of man’s intellect gets directed to sex and food .
    Subrata Ray .Uluberia .West.Bengal .India .

  4. Subrata Ray says:

    The dominance of instinct over heart and head ,and feasting the gross senses of modern working-class people find sense and language in Eliot’s Prelude .

    Precludes” suggests the advent of modern age. Modern urban is as it were, an ever winter. It is bleak and somber. The poem begins from the winter evening. The time is six o’clock. It aught to have been a time of prayer but, nay, it, with the modern man is a time of debauchery. The atmosphere around suggests this. There is a smell of steaks in the passage ways. The whole day ends with the appetite of consumption- “The burnt out ends of smoky days”. The things around are in utter disorder. The “withered leaves”, “broken blinds” gathering newspapers wrapping the street-work-feet, gusty shower,- all suggest the setting of anarchy. The poet suggests that modern men have been dehumanized. For this waywardness, a cab-horse reacts by stamping its feet on the street. So, we find in the first stanza, a unique representation of modern urban life. The poet gives us some broken pictures, – which are the poet’s objective correlative.
    Eliot’s ‘precludes’ is a modern poem in more than one sense. First of all it reveals the spirit of modern urban life with a number of objective correlatives. From stanza 1 to 4, we find the cyclic order of the day, -evening – morning – afternoon – evening. The poem houses with it the frustration, -monotony, waywardness, sterility and debauchery of modern life. It is a advent of west – land, where wholesomeness, sweetness and light of life are lost.

    The poet concludes his poem with “the notion of some infinitely gentle in finitely suffering thing”. And it is that the modern man’s suffering is beyond any measure but they do not know what for they suffer. The order of this world goes on ceaselessly like the plight of the destitute woman who would vainly search fuel in the abandoned building – sites.
    Subrata Ray Mousumipara .Uluberia .West Bengal .India .

  5. vivek bengani says:

    i m in 11 n doing ISC .. it is a very good poem n teaches a lot about the modern behaviour n portrays the issolation of an individual from the society.. i must tell everyone that the 3rd lyrics is nothing about prostitute…

  6. Terence Govender says:

    Wow, this poem is amazing. I mean there is a prostitute a poor, under-payed, over-worked, poor worker. It is all the poem you will ever need on those lonely, cold nights – when nothing’s on the tele.

  7. Pris says:

    Hi I’m in grade 11 and I am studying 5 of T.S. Eliot’s poems and one of them happens to be Preludes. I find analyzing Preludes and his other poems are really hard!


    Is a deeply thoughtful poem.It illustrates human misery and reality of life.It gives you a wide image of life. Life is not only based on materialism but, it is based on the”Fruitful essence” of trials and tribulations.

  9. Uzair Ravat says:

    Eliot’s Preludes thrives on mans allienation in thh modern world. Mans lack of focus and ambition is noticed yet unchanged. Eliot makes man realize their downfall and uncertainty in this new era, however mans unwillingness to change is equally their downfall. Eliot basically addresses mans eternal problems and provides an unsugar coated view into reality.

  10. Muhammad Shaahid Abdool says:

    Preludes is a deeply thought provoking poem. Eliot wrote this poem to make mankind understand in waht condition we are living. He lived during the time of the great depression and therefore, with this poem addressed many issues which made mankind corrupt but the beauty part is that this poem will always be relevant for future generations to come.

  11. Abdullah Ballim says:

    “Preludes”,states the bare reality of life, misery,anarchy etc. This poem has made me introspect in my life and the world at large , thus changing my opinion on issues.

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