A summary of a curious Eliot poem
One of the most popular of the quatrain poems published in T. S. Eliot’s second volume of poetry, ‘Whispers of Immortality’ (1920) is actually more about mortality than immortality. The title immediately evokes William Wordsworth’s ‘Ode: Intimations of Immortality’ – but Eliot’s worldview is altogether more classical than romantic, and his poem is partly a counterblast to Wordsworth’s Romanticism. But even this neat analysis or summary of the meaning of Eliot’s poem may, for all that, be too glib. You can read ‘Whispers of Immortality’ here.
As opening lines go, ‘Webster was much possessed by death’ is up there with Eliot’s other memorable openers, such as the description of the evening sky being like ‘a patient etherised upon a table’ from ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’, or ‘April is the cruellest month’ (The Waste…
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