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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 chimneypots,
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 times 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.

T.S. Eliot can be difficult to understand and I thank my teacher for breaking it down for us. So, I will be nice as well and share the knowledge,Here we go.
The poem is window's view into the life of a person living in the crumbling impersonal modern city; with its dirty streets and spiritually exhausted people. At the time when it was written the world was in term oil, the first World War and economic depression(sound familiar?) left artist, writers, and people in general with a sense of misdirection and despair. He describes the city as being in a state of winter losing all its direction and vigo, in most cases winter is viewed as a time where things-life if you will- are at a stand still, no growth. The image of burnt out cigarettes suggest a over all lack of energy, fading away in the people and their souls. He goes on to draw a line between modern life and a person hungover, say that they are more or less the same. Life is a little hungover- that image of sickness and splitting head ache and gut churning-paints society and life in the most grim picture. In the last stanza we, the most shocking imagery yet, we are being showed the repetitive nature within society- the mundane things that are being done by everyone- that complacent attitude that has killed the spirit of the people in this modern city.

"A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool."- William Shakespeare


Potent images in this one. I think scenes often speak much strong words than any commentary of the author or characters can provide.

March 10, 2009 at 6:50 AM  

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