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Poetry of T S Eliot
|by Thara D'Souza|
The lovers of poetry and students of literature can never forget the most famous lines of The Hollow Man from the post modern poet T S Eliot.
I read poetry often especially when I get bored by fiction, for some reason Eliot's poems are dear to me. His poetry, he once confessed had cost him dearly in experience.
I happened to read his biography by Peter Ackroyd where the relation between his life and writings is explicitly pictured. When I finished reading the book I was very depressed. Pages after pages there is almost nothing in this book other than his unsatisfied detached marital life with Vivien, her physical and mental illness, his aliments and depression.
We all feel lonely and unhappy many a times, but after reading his biography I felt this particular state of mind can be productive too. A life full of pains and aches, he himself declares that the two happy periods of his life is childhood and his second marriage.
Thomas Stearns Eliot (September 26, 1888 – January 4, 1965) was an American-born English poet, playwright, and literary critic, arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century. His poems are regarded as a masterpiece of the modernist movement. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. The poems I treasure are The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1915) The Waste Land (1922), The Hollow Men (1925).
The Wasteland "one of the most important touchstone of the 20th century" is full of myth.
He has lavishly used Jessie L. Weston’s From Ritual to Romance (1920) and Sir James G. Frazer’s The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion (1890).
The Golden Bough depicts old religion as fertility cults that revolved around the worship of, and periodic sacrifice of, a sacred king. Eliot picks the figure of the Fisher King legend here to describe the state of modern society, but in Eliot’s world there is no way to heal the society.
Eliot had extensively read Hinduism and Buddhism during his troubled times. He draws on the traditional interpretation of “what the thunder says,” as taken from the Upanishads (Hindu fables).
The depressive loveless life of Eliot is clearly stated in the opening lines of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" .
Prufrock has resemblance to Eliot himself
Towards the end of the poem, Hamlet the depressed loveless character of Shakespeare also found a place in this poem.
Eliot himself declares that Alfred Prufrock happened in his loveless stage of life. The poem laments the lost opportunities in his life and the unattained carnal love:
The meaninglessness of sex in the most negative form is depicted again in The Waste land ...
Here Eliot emphasizes sex as a bare human necessity, with no love, passion or respect between two individuals - the barren, waste, degenerating values of modern life. The Hollow Man evokes a total disillusionment and hopelessness of the generation. This poem from his early days “dried voices, dry grass and dry cellar” pictures the emptiness and the painful life he led.
Death and fear of death are the favorite imagery of Eliot’s poems. The first session of The Waste Land is titled as The Burial of the Dead.
- lines like that just express so much for the readers.
illustrates the fear of death again.
These people are given life by Eliot's repeated mention of their eyes - total surrender to the inevitable, unable to turn away. At the autumn of his life Eliot married his Secretary Valerie Fletcher. After his death Valerie said, "He felt he had paid too high a price to be a poet that he had suffered too much."
To quote Eliot “Let's not be narrow, nasty, and negative. Though he paints a tapestry of emptiness, a world of pain, suffering, desolation and despair. He believes “DA” as the key to new life. Datta (give), Dayadhvam (sympathize) and Damayata (control).
People should learn to love and give, should be able to communicate and sympathize with each other and sex should not be a wild act it should be an expression of emotion to create an everlasting bond of love to enliven the spirit of true life.
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