The Imagery Of T.S. Eliot Poetry
An explication of the poetry of T.S. Eliot. Specifically, the meaning, imagery, and symbolism standing behind "Prufrok", and "The Wasteland".
According to esteemed critic Edmund Wilson, "In ten years time, Eliot has left upon English poetry a mark more unmistakable than that of any other poet writing in English." Unfortunately, this "unmistakable" quality of Eliot's works is often met by overtly intellectual readers with either a sense of analytical confusion, or revulsion towards a poem whose scope is seemingly esoteric. It is my hope, however that by vivecting Eliot's poetry(notably "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrok" and "The Wasteland")in a holistic and vicarious manner, that the reader will aquire the ability to "feel" the full profundity of Eliot's poetry, in a way that will serve for both personal revelation and catharsis.
In "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrok", Eliot mourns the loss of chance, sobbing in existentionalist despair, and lamenting of passive indecision and inaction. In the opening lines, he assertively orders "Let us go then, you and I,/ When the evening is spread out against the sky", and following with the imagery of absolute impotence, "Like a patient etherized upon a table". It is in this way, that Eliot creates a sense of doing, and a sense of being dragged through the evening, tied to the back of a great fatalistic carriage. Towards the end of the poem, Eliot writes "Now I am not prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;/Am an attendant lord, one that will do/ To swell a progress, start a scene or two." These lines follow the beginning images of an impotent character. It is noteworthy, how Eliot elects to omit the preposition "I" in front of the phrase, "Am an attendant lord". This is symbolic of the depersonalization within the poem. In "The Wasteland", Elliot plays on the strange and macabre acts of depravity, that only the troubled subconscious is suited to grasp, and reckon with. There is, once again this element of disassociation and helplessness what drives the poem, particularly in the stanza, "The Burial of the Dead"; in which Eliot writes "Winter kept us warm, covering/ Earth in forgetful snow, feeding/ a little life with dried tubers". Later in the stanza, Eliot writes "And I will show you something different from either/ Your shadow at morning striding behind you/ Or your shadow at the evening rising to meet you. Then, Eliot writes the line that strikes at the soul of fear. This is the line that must be "felt" in order to understand Eliot. "I will show you fear in a handful of dust."