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Eliot’s Poetry

T. S. Eliot

Study Questions

Four Quartets: “Little Gidding”

Further Reading

1. How does Eliot comment on the act of writing poetry? How does his perspective change over the course of his career? Is he optimistic or pessimistic about the power of poetry to influence the modern world?

2. Describe the various speakers and characters in Eliot’s poems, particularly “Prufrock” and The Waste Land. Which of these poems, or which sections of these poems, would you call monologues? How does Eliot adapt the dramatic monologue form?

3. How does Eliot use the relationships between men and women to comment on society and culture? Why is “Prufrock” a “love song”?

4. What kinds of imagery does Eliot use? How do these sets of imagery change from “Prufrock” to Four Quartets?

5. Think about Eliot’s use of form and language. What is most “poetic” about his works? What linguistic devices does he use?

6. Describe Eliot’s range of cultural references. How do references to Eastern religions fit in with allusions to Christ and Dante? Why does Eliot include untranslated bits from non-English works?

7. What is the place of religion in Eliot’s work? How does this change over the course of his career?

8. What is the “Waste Land” Eliot describes? What other kinds of physical settings does Eliot use? How do they influence the messages of his poems?

9. Why is Eliot so fascinated with death imagery? What does the recurring imagery of drowning symbolize?

10. Describe the kind of person Eliot creates in “Prufrock.” How does Prufrock fulfill or rebut stereotypes of the modern intellectual?

More Help

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What's in a Name?

by CUBarbara, September 16, 2012

I think an important aspect out that was left out was the name "Lil" which can be short for two Lily or Lilith.

The Lily is a lovely white flower that, in the language of flowers, represents compassion and innocence. Oftentimes painters included lilies in images of the Virgin Mary to represent her innocence.

Lilith is a pagan spirit adopted into Jewish lore. She was the first wife of Adam who was cast from Eden when she wanted to be on top during sex. She became the first vampire and preyed on Adam's children borne by Eve.

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The presence of a common theme or attitude to life in the separate sections of T.S. Eliot's poem 'Preludes'

by Shehanaz, May 29, 2013

“The winter evening settles down
With smell of steaks in passageways.
Six o’ clock.
The burnt –out ends of smoky days.”
A poem is a complete expressive of the mood of the poet, and Thomas Stearns Eliot is of no exception to it, when he is certainly throughout his poem is deeply in a mood of gloom and despair, as far as society is concerned. He is considered to be one of the most distinguished poets of the twentieth century who brought a very modern touch to his poetry with plenty of symbolism and knowledge of ... Read more

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Appalled

by EddieTemple06, September 30, 2013

Whilst the commentary is interesting and does provide some interpretations that are worth merit, the summary is just shocking.
How anyone can read a stream-of-consciousness poem such as this and actually interpret it as "Prufrock" travelling from location to location is beyond me; secondly, the narrator (Prufrock; Eliot) is not addressing any external party, be it the reader or someone else: he is addressing HIMSELF. This, surprisingly, is the nature of a s-o-c poem. This is known as IMAGERY, nothing more. "I wandered lonely as a cloud... Read more

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