Uploaded by Kelvin Chen


Musical allusion - following on from Love song and Preludes
A rhapsody is an extended form of instrumentional composition, the
form is irregular, meaning length and structure can shift and change
according to the sensory impression the composer wishes to have
on the audience.
This follows the ideals of improvisation, reacting to emotion and then
shifting and changing as the mood of the composer.
Irony - often positive, here we see opposite
Imagery and metaphor - This ‘rhapsody’ is a unique, innovative,
confronting view of humanity, written on a windy night, echoing the irritation,
insecurity, violence and power of nature that cannot be calmed; a metaphor
for the angst of the poet and his emotional and psychological reaction to the
world around him
Rhapsody on a Windy Night
A rhapsody, in literary terms is a work that is written in lofty language, intense
in nature, provocative and emotional.
We can explore the poem for its improvisational
structure, its willingness to contravene poetic
conventions and examine deeply the emotional
resonance it provides when understood.
In Greek poetry, a rhapsody was an extended work, epic poetry, recited
publically and the emotion of the speaker incided the passion of the audience
Fragmented existence, people’s lives lack meaning, not authentic connections
Memory Struggle between two worlds (past and memory vs present
Sordid modern life represented -
Time notation - short clipped line
defining a moment to begin the
journey. A time when supernatural
has power
Enjambment into verb ‘Held‘ establishing
personification, giving every object a sense of
agency that allows insight into the speaker and
ourselves. streets that are being ‘held‘, the verb
implying a sense of constraint, held prisoner, or
held in some time warp
Metaphor for the underhanded nature of
the moon in its agenda to dissolve memory
- Influenced by Bergson (notes)
Verb - dissolve - breaking down any
attempt to expose ourselves through any
meaning of the past
simile therefore symbolises the power of
this midnight hour, with its lunar influences,
to shake the foundations of memory, to
destroy or perhaps breakdown resilience to
the truths that need to be revealed.
Idiom to indicate distance
travelled.- we hold on to specific
memories and rationalise
Twelve o'clock.
Along the reaches of the street
Held in a lunar synthesis,
Whispering lunar incantations
Dissolve the floors of memory
And all its clear relations,
Its divisions and precisions,
Every street lamp that I pass
Beats like a fatalistic drum,
And through the spaces of the dark
Midnight shakes the memory
As a madman shakes a dead
Mystical qualities, lunacy of the modern
Pathetic fallacy - attributes agency to the moon.
Incantations mystical properties
Metonym - layers to hide the secret workings of the
Internal rhyme - instability of memory
Metaphor for how society and the urban
world have even killed off even the most
madman is the paradox of modernity
simile therefore symbolises the power of this
midnight hour, with its lunar influences, to
shake the foundations of memory
Absurd image - emphasises chaos. Perhaps
even the futility of modern existence
he notions of modernism did shake
individuals into a reality of potential and
of the consequences of that potential
therefore we could argue here that Eliot
presents the disturbing realities of
modernity, we are all exposed for the
constructs we have become and the
constructs we pretentiously inflict on
Geraniums are a hardy plant, almost
indestructible and yet here, it has died, a
metaphor for how society and the urban
world have even killed off even the most
resilient of plants. The madman is the
paradox of modernity. In Eliot‘s mind, he
saw modernity as destructive in its bid to
build, construct, complete, refine and
redefine everything it touched. The simile
therefore symbolises the power of this
midnight hour, with its lunar influences, to
shake the foundations of memory, to
destroy or perhaps breakdown resilience
to the truths that need to be revealed.
Time again - 1.5 hours elapsed.
Movement in time but stagnant
too. Walking, thinking and
examining memories in
shadows, questioning their
reality - a long time at this hour
A sense of discomfort as each lamp
post brings a new memory - A
metaphysical memory
seems a callous, sinister
representation of the forced
smiles that lure us in to
Personification and onomatopoeia- street lamp
measures time and directs the persona on their walk
Prostitute? Being revealed glimpses (through the verbs)
of the sordid experiences - now the persona witnesses
Half-past one,
The street lamp sputtered,
metaphysical representation of truth,
laughing at both the walker and the
The street lamp muttered,
The street lamp said, "Regard that woman
Who hesitates towards you in the light of the door
Woman a symbol of decay,
Which opens on her like a grin.
“That woman” dehumanising
You see the border of her dress
Is torn and stained with sand,
And you see the corner of her eye
Imagery of existing on the fringes
Twists like a crooked pin."
Incongruous and disturbing imagery
symbolic of the brokenness and decay
in nature and in life, a result of
industrialisation and modern life
Sand= time
Enjambment =fragmented style
Street lamp is warning him
Confusion of what is memory and what is
happening - purposely obscure
Simile - agony (eye twisting) and emptiness
Like Prufrock - she is pinned for selection
Repetition of twisted
Motif - linked to lamp post - a
symbol of memory
He is walking and memories are
continually coming to him
Twisted eye‘ of the woman into a synecdoche
of society‘s tendency to cast off and waste its
The memory throws up high and dry
A crowd of twisted things;
Imagery of beach - links to
crab later
A twisted branch upon the beach
Eaten smooth, and polished
Imagery and sibilance - our innermost truths
As if the world gave up
Metaphor- metaphors of life and energy.
in places where they are ‘stiff and white‘, we
The rust that clings‘ is a measure of the
The secret of its skeleton,
will one day be exposed
erosion that leads to further decay. Loss
Stiff and white.
of joy and humanity
Corruption of modern world
A broken spring in a factory yard,
Juxtaposition of beach and
factory yard - urban
Rust that clings to the form that the strength has left
Hard and curled and ready to snap.
Smooth and polished imagery of refinement process,
we all practice on our
memories to hone them into
something we can live with
Polysyndeton - monotony of modern life
memory subject to the ╠│snap‘ or moment of
realisation that all memories will resolve into
these tarnished items discarded and rejected
by the impositions of modernity
Half-past two‘ suggests this reverie
is a progression, a sleepless vigil of
a soul searching
Personification and symbolism - street lamps
continue to highlight and point out aspects of the
reaches of the street‘
Half-past two,
Imagery is of more waste, more
decay, the cat a representation of
Imagery of cat - feminine, hide in
The street lamp said,
the shadowy world ready to devour‘
darkness, sneaky etc
"Remark the cat which flattens itself in the gutter, us as we wander into the rancid‘
memories that threaten to entrap us
Slips out its tongue
And devours a morsel of rancid butter."
So the hand of a child, automatic,
Slipped out and pocketed a toy that was running along the quay.
Analogy, referring to a
child who would pick up a
I could see nothing behind that child's eye.
toy. The adjective
fragmented image of eyes‘ and the
automatic‘ reminds us
crab‘ remind us of insecurity, how we
I have seen eyes in the street
that we accept and
are trapped like the crab on the end of a
Trying to peer through lighted shutters,
interpret our memories by
stick‘ The images are at once irrational,
to echo the irrational nature of human
And a crab one afternoon in a pool,
memory and they are depressing, we
are all entrapped and writhe on sticks
An old crab with barnacles on his back,
that someone holds.
Gripped the end of a stick which I held him.
Time notation - still in the night
Half-past three,
The lamp sputtered,
The lamp muttered in the dark.
Irregular rhyme and personification
Imagery - negative things
occur in the dark
French - the moon holds no grudge
The moon sees all and has seen all and doesn’t
judge, detached
Personification and verbs - contrasts romantic
images of the moon. Compared here to a
diseased woman symbolising the decay of the
natural world and disintegration of society
Contextual - smallpox existed
Paper rose - juxtaposition of real and
Enjambment, olfactory imagery - things
the moon has seen, what the darkness
obscures. Smothering, claustrophobic
Analogy - of the moon as a woman, old,
The lamp hummed:
decayed, who winks....smiles...smooths‘ but
"Regard the moon,
has lost her memory‘. The inference here is
La lune ne garde aucune rancune, madness
She winks a feeble eye,
Repeated eye image
She smiles into corners.
She smoothes the hair of the grass.
The moon has lost her memory.
A washed-out smallpox cracks her face,
Personification - memory itself dissolves
Her hand twists a paper rose,
TIme and its progression fail to provide
That smells of dust and old Cologne, opportunity to overcome or comprehend
loneliness and disconnection
She is alone
With all the old nocturnal smells
Repeated image of the geranium That cross and cross across her brain."
troubled, decaying,, dead, lacking
The reminiscence comes
peace of mind
Of sunless dry geraniums
And dust in crevices,
Alliteration - c and s
Smells of chestnuts in the streets,
And female smells in shuttered rooms,
And cigarettes in corridors
And cocktail smells in bars.
Time notation - 4 o’clock
Personification of street lamp - the opportunity to reveal or impel our
walker to see his memories as constructs of reality, as falsehoods
that have no exact truth
Return home - his only option is to return to
mundane life and despair as memories
have only revealed the sordid and desolate
nature of life
The lamp said,
"Four o'clock,
Metaphor - the key to change, truth,
Here is the number on the door. memories?
Exclamation - instead of helping him escape
You have the key,
from the monotony of life intensifies it with
images of hopelessness and hollowness
The little lamp spreads a ring on the stair,
that a modern industrial urban life has to
The bed is open; the tooth-brush hangs on the wall,
Put your shoes at the door, sleep, prepare for life."
The last twist of the knife.
Listing of routine and accumulation - life is
only held together by a routine and returning
home only highlights this, it is not a refuge
The final line, however, reveals the paradox of his return home. No
preparation is preparation enough for life is, in itself, The last twist of the
knife‘ Living a life void of purpose is like a living death. This harsh ending
reveals the harshness of a modern existence/life. Suffering and agonising.
Final thoughts on the poem and its ending...
The twist‘ in the tale is that we are all decaying, that the night shadows will not
give us eternal youth, that the day will bring us work and weariness and we
continue to re-enact the same vignette over and over, never really accessing the
reaches‘ of the streets that are our existence.
The poem then is an offering of enlightenment. No amount of lamplights speaking
to us will make the path easier or make us more aware.
Eliot cleverly forces us to face our sense of confusion and to challenge our
reveries, not to dismiss them or get lost in them. To use them as a means to find
ourselves within a world that will compete to destroy that part of us that is true.
Symbolism of the moon
Symbolism of the moon