written by TS Eliot
The winter evening settes down With smell of steaks in passagewats 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 frm 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
4 uneven parts free verse
"a condemnation of modernity, and specifically of urban life. It mainly highlights the boredom of life, with allusions to prostitutes and other grimy scenes to further enhance the disorienting nature of the world in such a time"
alienating effects of modern urban life lonely desolate, filthy
alienated even from controlling their own bodies; this is shown via the use of synecdoche
they lack agency, emotion, or identity mindless same old routine, day in day out
suggests time is an illusion, all we do are masquerades we base our entire lives around the clock
the women in iii - is alienated not just from other people, but from herself her thoughts being projected onto the ceiling shows this she is passive like other urban dwellers
city itself is more conscious and aware than the people living in it
"bed's edge" - she is in between waking and dreaming states, able to perceive reality and visions
allusions to 'The Leper' by Algernon Charles Swinburne; This poem ends with a twist that the lady, who is the speaker's object of affection, and whose feet he is embracing, has in fact been dead six months, as a result of leprosy
this allusion stresses the passivity of the isolated
soul stretched across the sky - alludes to heaven, redemption, Jesus but quickly dismisses the idea that we can be redeemed ("fade behind a city block","trampled by insistent feet")
in III, the street has a consciousness street is more alive than we are in IV, the street has a conscience "implies that the environment is not merely more conscious and more moral than its utterly dehumanized inhabitants, but that it is also like Christ in being potentially able to redeem human beings"