The setting of the poem is dark, murky and indications are given that the season the poem is set in is winter. ‘Leaves about your feet’, it is about the hustle of people and how in their busy lives they have forgotten the importance of life itself. The message conveyed is simple – society does not appreciate the real importance of life- but is more concerned with masquerades and fallacy. They have forgotten themselves and others, Prostituting themselves to money, and social class.
The structure of the poem is again important in the emphasis of the emptiness of the poem and the town. Certain lines are dislocated, disjointed.’ And the lighting of the lamps’ this line could mean an array of things , the line could reflect his mood, how he realises the true importance of life and is the light of the town but he is dislocated from the rest of the poem , from the rest of the town. The lamps could also mean hope and how hope of the redemption of the people has been dislocated from their daily lives, as T.S Elliot was a strict catholic. He may have believed that hope and god may have disappeared from the town’s people’s life; the true light of the city has been cast aside.
Elliot accuses the behaviour of the town’s people to be that of a ‘masquerade’, again emphasizing his dislike for the town. In stanza 3, Elliot suggests that a women, who may very well be a prostitute ‘sordid images’ is contemplating about life. This notion, Elliot may have used to suggest other things- this may be that he feels that everyone in the town is prostituting themselves, and this woman may be the thought of everyone in the town. The sordid images may be those of the day they have just had.
‘Sparrows in the gutters’, this quote again suggest hope is present but in the gutter, holding no importance, covered up in filth, the filth of human nature.
‘His soul stretched across the sky, a soul a most spiritual and sacred aspect of ones life being ‘stretched across the sky’. A human soul is being trampled on- yet it is still at the convenience of the towns people ‘at 5 and 6 and 7 o’ clock’, at rush hour.
The prostitutes thought are very similar to the concept of the whole poem- when she is with a client she find other distractions from what is really going on in life- many people may try to do the same – avoid the real consequences of life. They seem to lose touch with humanity when they make money or go about their daily lives. ‘They flicked against the ceiling, and when all the world came back’.
Despair and desolation are very strongly portrayed within the poem, the desolation of the town, reflects on the desolation of peoples live s. everything in this town seems to be worn out, dirty, not worth much, broken. ‘Broken blinds’, apart from the poets views, and yet he still is not acknowledged.
The poem has a steady beat and reads very well, the common beat may also be a reflection of the town, and steady and regular nothing is unusual. The beat of life has slowly become regular.
The emphasis of the emptiness and desolation of the poem is conveyed through the language utilised: ‘broken’, ’empty’, ‘dirty’, ‘lonely’. These vivid descriptions are again associated with loneliness- reinforcing the concept that the town has lost everything.