The Modernist era was a time in which an array of cultural movements established substantial changes in the Western world, introducing an industrial society and challenging traditional cultural customs. T.S Eliot has been one of the most daring innovators of twentieth-century poetry, and believed that poetry should aim at a representation of the complexities of modern civilization. His poem ‘Preludes’ looks at the decay of the city as a result of ritual, futility and the effects of technological advancement through Eliot’s harsh description of the city and its people.
Eliot effectively distinguishes his thoughts of the modernist era, instantly unfolding the decay and repulsing characterization of the city throughout the first stanza from an omniscient point of view. The motif of dirt and decay is established by the sense of weariness, exhaustion and pollution “newspapers from vacant lots”, introducing the idea that society has been destroyed by city life and industrialization. Not even the purity of nature is capable of proposing a sanctuary from the dissolution of the city and its people, “now a gusty shower wraps.. the grimy scraps.. Of withered leaves”. Through this inversion, Eliot clearly juxtaposes rain, in which should be cathartic into a “gusty” impetuous storm, revealing natures fundamental anger towards humanity. The grimness of city life is reinforced through the “broken blinds and chimney pots”, evoking the idea of decay and the apathetic nature of modern urban existence. The “lighting of the lamps” doesn't illuminate in a positive sense. It only serves to highlight the miserable condition of the streets conveying hypothetical hope, although foremost perceiving the sense of ritual. Thus Eliot’s views of the modernist era are clearly exemplified through the overall decay and deterioration of not only the city but nature too. The Modernist era was a time of monotonous ritual, with a deprivation of identity leading to the foundations of society...
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