A critical assessment of TS Eliot’s poem, ‘Rhapsody on a windy night’ Essay Sample

July 31, 2017 General Studies

Rhapsody on a blowy dark was written straight after Preludes and echoes many of its subjects. Rhapsody… charts the night-time journey of a adult male through the streets of a metropolis. Held in a enchantment by the moonshine. he is shown assorted sights by the street lamps he passes. and these sights evoke images. feelings and remembrances. From the sights revealed by the lamps. and the responses they induce. a portrayal of the metropolis life is painted.

The verse form begins by set uping the scene. A adult male is rolling “Along the ranges of the street / held in a lunar synthesis” . Although the street is making. as if to ensnare the adult male. it is held in stasis by the Moon. This thought of the Moon holding power to let go of the rolling adult male from his mundane form of idea. from the “conscience of the blackened street” . prevails throughout the verse form. But it is non merely the daily considerations that the Moon expels: “memory” excessively is dissolved. with all its “clear dealingss / Its divisions and precisions” . The metaphor of “dissolve [ ing ] …floors” suggests that memory was a platform. which is being wiped off – the adult male is left drifting in infinite.

The lines

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Every street lamp that I pass

Beat generations like a fatalistic membranophone

hold a figure of possible deductions. One possibility is that the passing lamps remind the adult male of the passing clip. and that shortly he will be place. and forced out of the “lunar synthesis” . This reading is supported by the mentions to the clip at the beginning of each stanza. The lines “Half-past one…Half-past two…Half-past three” . are like the whipping of a membranophone. and a fatalistic 1 in that the advancement of clip is grim. Alternatively. the lines could be underscoring the fright and fatalism inherent in the visions revealed by the street-lamps. For the visions do transport an component of fright. and though. as we shall see. longings are expressed. destiny seems set against their satisfaction.

Despite the “lunar synthesis” . “Midnight shakes the memory / As a lunatic shakes a dead geranium” . i. e. the memory is lost but the dark shakes it still. seeking for some reaction. The petals that might fall as the lunatic shakes. go the fragments of idea and memory unearthed by the assorted visions in the subsequent stanzas.

The first vision is of a adult female. She “hesitates towards” the roamer as if she yearns for company ; perchance she would herself like to come in the “lunar synthesis” . Her frock is “torn and stained with sand” . which conjures up the image of her alone on the beach. Possibly her frock has been torn on some subdivisions. as if they were forestalling her from go throughing. keeping her dorsum from the object of her longing. This object of hankering seems to be flight of some kind. suggested by the image of the beach as a topographic point of flight and the door which “opens on her like a grin” . endangering to get down her up. Despite her desire to hedge the ugly smile of the door. the woman’s oculus “twists like a crooked pin” – there is no hope for her. the mechanical universe with its “divisions and precisions” . possesses her organic structure – she is a hopeless captive of the empty “masquerade” of the metropolis being.

The adult female reminds the roamer of a “crowd” of things. “twisted” in the same manner as the woman’s oculus. She brings to mind a “branch upon the beach” . re-emphasising that image of solitariness. and adding to it with the suggestion that the adult female has been sucked of life ( “eaten smooth” ) . There is besides a suggestion in the lines

As if the universe gave up

The secret of its skeleton

that this adult female and those like her signifier a cardinal portion of the universe. and even back up it.

The adult female besides brings to mind a “broken spring in a mill yard” . connoting she has been used by society and so discarded. possibly as she has grown old. Her “strength has left” . sapped by the universe. and all that remains are the outward marks of her decay ( “rust” ) . She is in a province of tenseness ( “hard and curled” ) . and some dramatic alteration must happen shortly ( “ready to snap” ) : perchance her decease.

The following vision presented by the street-lamp is that of a cat “which flattens itself in the gutter” . The image of the animate being pressing itself to the dirty trough. every bit good as connoting a general image of decay. suggests that the people of the metropolis imperativeness themselves towards the sort of life that has destroyed the adult female discussed earlier. and are non merely brush unwillingly into it. The cat stealing out its lingua reminds the storyteller of a kid whose manus “…automatic / Slipped out and pocketed a toy” . This memory reinforces the thought that the people of the metropolis act automatically. and without idea. or purpose ( “I could see nil behind that child’s eye” ) . The memory instantly following. nevertheless. suggests that there is a strong desire among the people to get away from this province of mechanization: so the storyteller has seen “eyes…trying to peer through lighted shutters” . This image suggests hankering. as does the crab. which “gripped the terminal of a stick” . urgently seeking to get away its prison-like pool.

At last. the street lamp turns the wanderer’s attending to the Moon itself. stating “La lune ne garde aucune rancune” : the Moon harbours no sick feeling. In other words. the Moon does non judge. does non play any portion in the daily personal businesss of the people. and does non experience those concerns or concerns that constitute the mechanical and empty lives of the people. Indeed. “the Moon has lost her memory” . it is for good in the province of “lunar synthesis” . However. one gets the feeling that a changeless being in this province has taken its toll on the Moon. Her face is worn out by “smallpox” . and her manus “twists a paper rose” . as if she is hankering to see some of the meaningful love that the rose represents. but all she sees night-after-night is the emptiness and phoniness of people’s lives: her rose is a sham.

The visions presented to the storyteller are seen by the Moon every dark. and have been everlastingly: the odors are “old” . and they “cross and cross” across her encephalon. torturing her. Furthermore. “she is alone” . She is the lone 1 who perceives the agony of the people. but is unable to make anything but “smile” and “wink a lame eye” . This contemplation makes the storyteller excessively think of everyplace he has seen this meaningless. paper life. Therefore. he reflects on a inundation of claustrophobic scenes.

…female odors in shuttered suites

And coffin nails in corridors

And cocktail odors in bars

the scenes pluralized. bespeaking that he has seen them frequently.

“The last turn of the knife” comes in the concluding stanza. when memory returns to the storyteller. The lamp bids:

…the tooth-brush bents on the wall.

Put your places at the door. slumber. prepare for life

The storyteller is snapped from his province of enchantment. and he excessively must return to his nonmeaningful life. with its rote jobs. His clip of freedom is up.

Through the usage of redolent images and the nonsubjective correlate. Rhapsody on blowy dark efficaciously paints a portrayal of metropolis life. Eliot portrays a adult male who finds it insistent. empty. cruel. dirty and lonely. The adult male sees people endeavoring to get away this life. but non wining. The one possible flight is ephemeral. and is provided by suspension in a trance-like province by the visible radiation of the Moon. The lone one to hold genuinely escaped this life is the Moon. but she is lonely and pained by the agony of others. The Moon has the ability to “synthesis [ e ] ” i. e. fuse together that which is fragmented: memory. experiences. human relationships. and life itself.

Rhapsody is besides about the passing of clip. and about memory. There is a sense of the “fatalistic drum” . non merely crushing the clip to the terminal of the “lunar synthesis” . but to the terminal of life itself. This adds an urgency to the desires for flight expressed in the verse form – shortly it will be excessively late. Possibly it is already excessively late for the midnight roamer. and this is why his ideas seem chiefly in the yesteryear.


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