Analysis of T. S. Eliot's East Coker

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Analysis of T. S. Eliot's East Coker The early poetry of T. S. Eliot, poems such as "The Wasteland" or "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", is filled his despair of the human condition. Man is a weak soul, easily tempted and filled with lusts, who has no hope of redemption. These views of man did not change when Eliot converted to Catholicism. Eliot still maintained man's desperate plight, but supplemented that belief with the notion that man has some hope through the work of Christ. This expanded view first appeared with the publication of "Burnt Norton" in 1935. From this poem, Eliot built a delicately intricate set of Christian devotional poems, Four Quartets. The second of T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets, "East Coker", is the poet's reflection on the English village in which his ancestor Sir Thomas Elyot wrote The Governour, and from which Andrew Elyot embarked for the New World (Blamires 41). Eliot understood poetry to be a series of images, phrases, and feelings deposited into the consciousness of the poet and then fused together to form something new (Eliot 55). Often, this collection is unified by a device that has little to do with the actual emotions that are the subject of the poem. In "East Coker," the village in Somersetshire is only a departure point for two discussions. The primary issue is the determinism that governs man's activities and ultimately makes a failure of all his pursuits. The second issue is like the first: that the poet's words fail in their attempts to elucidate the problem of determinism. Eliot prefaces Four Quartets with the words of Heraclitus: "The way up an... ... middle of paper ... ... a relevant experience for twentieth-century man, all seem abundantly clear in his poems. What was the "private insight" of the poet that remains ineffable? Works Cited Blamires, Harry. Word Unheard: A Guide through Eliot's Four Quartets. London: Meuthen & Co. Ltd., 1969. Eliot, Thomas Stearns. "Tradition and the Individual Talent," from The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism. London: Meuthen & Co. Ltd., 1920. The Four Quartets. London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1943. Gardner, Helen. The Composition of Four Quartets. London: Faber and Faber, 1978. Murray, Paul. T. S. Eliot and Mysticism: The Secret History of the Four Quartets. London: Macmillan, 1991. Reibetanz, Julia Maniates. A Reading of Eliot's Four Quartets. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1970.

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