A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF EZRA POUND’S IN A STATION OF THE METRO AND T.S. ELIOT’S THE LOVE SONG OF J. ALFRED PRUFROCK
M.Phil Applied Linguistics,
University of Management and Technology,
Pound and Eliot’s satiric criticism on the new morality of the modern world is skillfully achieved in their famous poems, “In a Station of the Metro” and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”. This research paper is aimed at a comparative analysis of these poems, with particular regards to their thematic concerns and stylistic features.
Key words: American Literature, Satiric criticism, Comparative analysis, Critique of the Modern World, Existentialism
Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot, two of the most prominent and prolific literary figures of 20 century America, had seen all the limits of misery and despair in the world. They had been ‘in many a land’ to realize that there was ‘naught else in living’. The backdrop of the World Wars and 1930s Great Depression reflects an extreme sense of loss, dejection and melancholy in their literary output.
Both, Eliot’s ‘Prufrock Song’ and Pound’s ‘Metro Poem’, deal with the similar contemporary issues in a critical tone. These poems launch a stark comment on the modern man living in moral world of immoralities, darkened with the evils of capitalism, hypocrisy, indifference, emotional and aesthetic downfall and social alienation. All these societal vices end up with the establishment of a fatal “USURA System” that sucks the life from man’s body reducing him to the level of cadavers; “Corpses are set to banquet/ At behest of usura”, says Pound.
Eliot’s primary concern in the ‘Prufrock Song’ is that of the hell to which human being are subjected every day of their lives. The Epigraph to this song has been taken from Dante’s “Inferno”. Translated from the original Italian, the lines are as follows:
“None of us get out of here alive; if I thought that you could tell the world of my shame, I would reveal nothing, but since you cannot escape this hell, I might as well have a confidante.” 1 This hell of Prufrock is not his alone; it is shared by every human being who ever lived. In Pound’s view this could be interpreted as the hell of ‘Usura’ in the modern world, from where there’s no escape for the modern man. The ‘faces’ at the ‘station of the metro’ that Pound comes across are all searching their way out of the material hell, however, they’re unable to pluck themselves off the ‘wet, black bough’. 1
Calvin, K. (2001) ‘Glossary of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”’ (online article) DOI: www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/a_f/eliot/prufrock.htm
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A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF EZRA POUND’S “IN A STATION OF THE METRO” AND……… MAHRUKH BAIG
This hell of ‘usura’ has caused a definite sense of social-alienation and detachment in the modern man’s life. J. Alfred Prufrock, a vivid representation of modern man, is divided between two selves— “You and I”, the real and the social selves. This split personality of Prufrock parallels the alienated existence of the people at the ‘metro station’, scattered as ‘petals’. Lost in a ‘crowd’, they are yet alone, being detached from society as well as from their own true selves. The allusions to “wetness” and “yellow fog” in these poems are symbolic of the liquidity of modern man’s life. This fog signifies his mental state and indifferent attitude that doesn’t allow him to remove the vacuum from his life and have a clear vision of the humanity around.
Man’s internal conflict due to the gap between his inner and outer selves is reflective of his social hypocrisy also. He’s wearing the masks to hide his real self in order to survive in a world of false moralities. Prufrock, the mouth-piece of Eliot, comments on the social face that is being used to kill the ‘true’ face of the man. “To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet; / There will be time to murder and create” (Line...
References: Alexander, M. (1979). The Poetic Achievement of Ezra Pound. London: British Library Publishers.
Henry, D. (2001). Eliot’s prufrock, with a modernist’s lens. Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois
Kenner, H. (1971). The Pound Era. California: University of California Press.
Nadel, I. B. (1999). Introduction-understanding pound. In I. B. Nadel (Ed.), The Cambridge companion
to Ezra Pound United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
Tytell, J. (1987). Ezra Pound the solitary volcano. New York: Library of Congress Publications.
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