2. THOMAS STEARNS ELIOT (1888-1965)
First of all, the first author we are going to analyse is T.S Eliot who is an important figure in the modernist poetry because his poem The Waste Land is considered a foundational text of Modernism, which shows how to make meaning by the use of fragments and dislocation. Is this construction of an exclusive meaning what was essential to Modernism. But our analysis is not going to be dedicated to this poem but to another one, which is related to the topic we are dealing with, Religion. Before we start with the analysis of the poem, we are going to expound some information about Eliot that could be useful in order to understand better the poem.
Firstly, Thomas Stearns Eliot was
poet, critic and editor. He was born in
A Song for Simeon
Lord, the Roman hyacinths are blooming in bowls and
The winter sun creeps by the snow hills;
The stubborn season has made stand.
My life is light, waiting for the death wind,
Like a feather on the back of my hand.
Dust in sunlight and memory in corners
Wait for the wind that chills towards the dead land.
Grant us thy peace.
I have walked many years in this city,
Kept faith and fast, provided for the poor,
Have taken and given honour and ease.
There went never any rejected from my door.
Who shall remember my house, where shall live my children’s children
When the time of sorrow is come ?
They will take to the goat’s path, and the fox’s home,
Fleeing from the foreign faces and the foreign swords.
Before the time of cords and scourges and lamentation
Grant us thy peace.
Before the stations of the mountain of desolation,
Before the certain hour of maternal sorrow,
Now at this birth season of decease,
Let the Infant, the still unspeaking and unspoken Word,
Grant Israel’s consolation
To one who has eighty years and no to-morrow.
According to thy word,
They shall praise Thee and suffer in every generation
With glory and derision,
Light upon light, mounting the saints’ stair.
Not for me the martyrdom, the ecstasy of thought and prayer,
Not for me the ultimate vision.
Grant me thy peace.
(And a sword shall pierce thy heart,
I am tired with my own life and the lives of
those after me,
I am dying in my own death and the deaths of those after me.
Let thy servant depart,
Having seen thy salvation.
On the one hand, this poem talks
about the story of Simeon, a biblical character who was fair and devout and
hoped the redemption from
On the other hand, T.S Eliot felt himself identified with this story, which also expresses one of the topics of Modernism which was the disillusionment and the face of an unmanageable future and resignation. Everyone has fear of dying and hopes something after death, but anyone knows what will happen when they die; they can only resign and accept that they can not control death. We al have the doubt of what will happen when we die, what will happen to all the people we love, will they be happy? Will they suffer the horrors of another war? What can we do about it?, anything resigns and that’s the disillusion modernism talks about. where shall live my children’s children?/ When the time of sorrow is come?
In addition, we can find some other aspects that usually appear in Romanticism such as free form and verse and no metaphors. Because of that, this poem has no cryptically meaning, it only means what it word-for-word says. There are no symbols excluding this verse: And a sword shall pierce thy heart, Thine also. The sword in the biblical context means the message of God. As an example of this simple poetic language, Eliot explained it in this sentence Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper tree in the cool of the cool of the day… from Ash Wednesday (1927); he said “It means Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper tree in the cool of the cool of the day”.
To conclude, we can say that, although modernism was not influenced in a great way by religion, because of the doubts that surrounded the society, Eliot, using his faith as an important part of his ideas, gave us a testimony of his way of thinking and how religion was lived by the people who believe in his time. Even if we do not want to, religion is part of our culture and as Eliot said, Literature impact in religion and vice versa.
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