• He revalued the tradition;
• Past and present coexist;
• Past is an active part of present;
• Universal poetry (ancient rituals; mythical events);
• He was influenced by Dante Alighieri’s poetics; he considers Modern Life as the Medieval Inferno;
• He was influenced by “The Metaphysical poets” and he revalued John Donne.
• Modern man’s alienation from Society;
• Time vs eternity;
• The question of personal identity;
• The problem of faith in modern civilization;
• The sense that the present is inferior to the past;
• The fear of living;
• The moral spiritual and sentimental emptiness of our time.
The Waste Land:
This long poem is a central work of Modernism. It is inspired by the legend of the Holy Grail. The Waste Land was interpreted as a comment on the futility of civilization after World War I and on the emptiness and confusion of contemporary life. But it also reflected Eliot’s search for religious truth and the unhappiness of his first marriage
• The meaningful link with the past
• The emptiness and sterility of modern life
STRUCTURE AND FEATURES
• It is dedicated to Ezra Pound and it is fragmentary in form and full of sometimes obscure allusions.
• The poem is preceded by a Latin and Greek epigraph from The Satyr icon of Petronius.
• It is divided into five parts with no logical continuity between them:
─ I. The Burial of the Dead
─ II. A Game of Chess
─ III. The Fire Sermon
─ IV. Death by Water
─ V. What the Thunder Said
• It can be read on many levels. It has a narrative level, a story covering roughly a twelve-hour period in a single day.
• Lack of an explicit link between the episodes described
• Language used, lacking any standard punctuation, shifting from a style of lyric intensity to another of ironic or bitter realism.
• Presence of sentences and quotations from foreign language
• Frequent allusions to people, tradition or events, from a variety of cultural sources, that require a good level of culture.
• Use of the “stream of consciousness”
What the thunder said
“What the thunder said” is an extract from “The Waste Land”, published by T. S. Eliot in 1922. This extract deals with Christ’s death and His agony in the garden of Gethsemane. However, the majority of the text deals with the inhabitants of the waste land, who accept to live a poor life without hope in a resurrection. They are overcome by lack of water and desolation.
“Unreal city” is an extract from “The Waste Land” written by T. S. Eliot and published in 1922. It deals with London, which is seen by the author as an “unreal city”, where the people make always the same things, make the identical walk over the bridge every day and are characterised by a lifeless existence.
The Four Quartets
The Four Quartets are poems that constitute a whole work unified
• is structured “musically
• is divided into five parts
• corresponds to one of the four seasons and to one of the four elements of the universe (air, earth, water and fire)
• brings the name of a place particularly meaningful in the poet’s life:
─ Burnt Norton;
─ East Coker, the English village where his ancestors lived;
─ The Dry Salvages;
─ Little Gidding.
This extract of the poem “Burnt Norton” was written by T.S. Eliot in 1935 and it is from the collection “Four Quartets”. In this extract the author talks about time: he particularly expresses the idea that past and future are contained in the present. After that he makes the scene more vivid creating the wonderful image of a garden: he writes that there wasn’t life. Finally, the key sentence of the poem is “human kind cannot bear very much reality”.
The hollow men
T.S. Eliot is talking about the effects of modern society. The men come back “hollow” (feeling empty and without emotion). This poem has a sense of hopelessness and despair.
Eliot show that society is constantly de-evolving, both morally and spiritually. In “The Hollow Men” almost every word is linked to some symbol of moral downfall.