Preludes- T.S. Eliot
Preludes- T.S. Eliot
"Poetry can be a criticism of life" - T.S Eliot
Eliot is one of the major poets who belong to the era of modern poetry. In most of his poems we find the characteristics of the modern era which have uprooted the people from their cultural roots. The city dwellers who belong to the modern era led a fatigue bored lifestyle. Eliot’s poem Preludes captured the thoughts and observations of industrial city dwellers. Eliot published these short poems in a book of poetry that contained long poems about city life. As all four poems are short pieces, each of them is like an introduction to the longer poems. He called them preludes and grouped them together.
In Preludes through the technique of stream of consciousness Eliot reveals the thoughts of a city dweller. The four preludes represent four time periods of the day. The first takes place at dusk/ a winter evening. The observer is outside and observing the atmosphere of the neighbourhood. The writer has given the time precisely. “six o’clock” and it signals that the day is done and night is going to begin. By the way it is not a pleasant picture that the writer creates. Residents most probably the workers in the first prelude are tired at their work and reached to their flats. The word ‘passageways’ suggests the houses have been turned into flats for rent. The smell of steak furthermore suggests that night is going to begin. ‘burnt out’ suggests the tiredness of the workers. As is still early winter the autumn leaves still can be seen on the ground. The poet implies a bad weather through heavy windy shower. The street too becomes untidy with the blowing pieces of newspapers. Moreover it is suggested the fact that the street is neglected. At the same time the observer has given a clue of a cab horse with a mysterious visitor. The horse is breathing and kicking lonely. The prelude ends by making the reader feels suspicious towards the visitor.
The second prelude starts with a scene of an early morning. It starts with the sense of disgust, meaninglessness and consciousness of the negative kind of hang- over. Still the observer is outside observing the atmosphere. A man is going to have a quick coffee. It suggests a floor of cheap pub with sawdust and drops of beer. Furthermore the poet suggests a deep idea through word of ‘masquerades’. The secret lives that spent at night would be hidden in the morning and people will put on false actions and tricks for the show of the day. Most probably the ‘dingy hands’ mentioned in the second prelude may by the same hands that hold the yellow feet in the third prelude. Through the stream of consciousness the reader reveals the fact that most of the people are reluctant to reveal their true lives and instead of that they pretend false lives. The above mentioned facts of the second prelude can hint further that the person might have drunken last night with a prostitute and have spent the night together in a furnished room.
The third stanza starts with an inside observer. It further develops the idea mentioned in the previous stanza. The scene takes place at night. The word ‘you’ suggests a prostitute and the action of tossing blanket suggests a strong image of sexuality. The person’s mind gets filled with thousand disgusting images. The person might be a regular customer of this lady. Moreover the prelude lll implies about the lady. It is suggested the fact that the pictures in her mind ‘flickered’. The flames can suggest the idea of hell. So the lady may live in a personal hell or else her room at night might have turned into a hell. And next she hears the light of the dawn and the sound of sparrows which turn her day into a normal one. She removes her paper curls from her hair and she may not have anything else to do rather than getting ready for the work at night. The action of clasping her soles suggests her dissatisfaction, isolation and seclusion from the society. Furthermore she is having ‘soiled’ hands that hint at lack of cleanliness, hygiene and purity.
The last prelude occurs at a late afternoon and it is a busy winter afternoon with a dark, gloomy sky. Again the observer is outside and observing at the passing crowed, and the people with loss of conscience. It seems that they are impatient, hurry and with the need of relaxation. And at the same time they suffer. They lead a false life as mentioned in the second prelude. And this is how they struggle with their lives.
Human suffering and the nature of modern life can be taken as major themes of the poem.