Voice in T.S. Eliot's The Hippopotamus, The Hollow Men, and Journey of the Magi

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Voice in T.S. Eliot's The Hippopotamus, The Hollow Men, and Journey of the Magi

Poetry has meaning. This meaning is usually a message, and a message

is projected though a voice. When we read poetry we hear this voice.

The voices projected in the T.S. Eliot poems 'The Hippopotamus', 'The

Hollow Men' and 'Journey of the Magi' are particularly strong, and the

voice carries a lot of meaning to the readers. The voice is three

things; the voice of the poetry in relation to Eliot, the voice of the

poetry, and the individual reader's interpretation of the voice. If

something changes in Eliot's life, or if he is influenced by

something, it may be reflected in his poetry. T.S. Eliot once said 'a

large part of ay poet's "inspiration" must come from his reading and

from his knowledge of history.'[1] As he is writing the poem, his

voice is sounded in the voice of the poem. The voice projected through

a poem is a solid message projected by poetic techniques, but the

voice that is heard inside the readers head varies from reader to

reader, depending on their background. There are some core things that

alter the voice that Eliot's poetry projects: the nationality of the

reader and whether or not they are familiar with the society Eliot is

writing about, what religion, if any, they belong to, and how well

read a reader is (Eliot makes many allusions in his poetry) will

effect the voice that they hear from Eliot's work. From studying

Eliot's poetry, however, the voice Eliot intended to project can be

determined. All of these three elements (Eliot, the poem, and the

reader) create the final voice of the poem. Because the voices that

the readers hear ar...

... middle of paper ...

... do in this life, and the people who we consider

great people (eg. Political leaders) are still flawed. There is most

definitely a distinct voice in all poetry, especially in T.S. Eliot's,

and voices of these poems influence the readers response to a large

extent. If voices were not heard through poetry, poetry would not have

had the effect on society and history that it has had.


B.C. Southam A Student's Guide to the Selected Poems of T.S. Eliot

Faber and Faber Limited, London, 1994

M. Herbert T.S. Eliot Selected Poems YORK PRESS London, 2000

T.S. Eliot Selected Poems Faber and Faber Limited, London, 2002

Nicol, Andrew http://www.philosophyclassics.com/essays/680/ (April


[1] T.S. Eliot To-Day September 1918

[2] M. Herbert T.S. Eliot Selected Poems York Press London 2000
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