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Modernism in T.S. Eliot's Prelude

In T.S. Eiot's "Preludes", based on the scenes and dialogue in these poems what is the vision of the modern world as you find it (ie, the modern world and modernism as we have defined it, not your own modern or contemporary world)? Don't try to analyze all the poems; instead, make some pointed observations on the world depicted in the poems and its inhabitants. Is this world urban? What economic classes do you think are represented? What is the tone, or writer's attitude, toward the people and events? What is the mood, or emotional feel, int he poem? How do you respond?

Poem:

I

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.

II

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.

III

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.

IV

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.

Solution Preview

This poem exemplifies the movement of modernism or "avant-garde"...It utterly grasps the gritty nature of the urban scene. The first stanza displays a winter night and the dirty, littered streets of the city scene it depicts. The "faint stale smells of beer", still hanging in the air as the morning begins, "comes to consciousness," further enforces the aspect of dirty and gritty being displayed of the urban city.

The inhabitants of this poem are of the lowest class. The fourth ...

Solution Summary

This solution analyzes key points in T.S. Eliot's Prelude through the lens of Modernism. It serves to explore some specific viewpoints such as the writer's attitude towards the characters, tone, mood, emotional feel, etc.

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