Nobel laureate, American poet and modernist Thomas Sterns Eliot is the author of over four hundred literary and critical works, poetry collections, and poetry dramas. The poetry of T. Eliot is extremely complex. To understand his images, one must have a thorough knowledge of history, philosophy, literature, linguistics. Eliot himself said that modern poets should be difficult to understand, since reality itself, the civilization of the 20th century, is an extremely complex and diverse phenomenon.
This complexity, reflected in the poet’s imagination, is forced to give rise to complex and diverse works. Eliot’s poetry turns to the reader’s thought, forcing him to reason and draw conclusions.
But at the same time, Eliot’s poetry remains primarily poetry, with a peculiar imaginative world, with a deep emotional influence. Even when not all the images are understandable, the reader perceives precisely the poetic model of the world that Eliot offers. It is no coincidence that the name of Eliot is particularly respected among English-speaking readers: he discovered secrets of how to turn poetry into a non-poetic reality of the 20th century.
Real poetry always reveals the poet’s inner world, the problems that concern him, and this resonates with readers and causes emotional stress.
Eliot’s poetry reveals the poet’s deep sadness, the catastrophic feeling of modern civilization, and this sadness, this feeling is transmitted to the reader. The poem “Empty People” is a vivid example of how the brightest features of the Eliot era were reflected here and the leading theme of his work was revealed. An important role is played by epigraphs. The first, “Mr. Kurtz died,” Eliot took from the novel J.
Conrad “Heart of Darkness” and he is associated with the theme of lost faith. It is in such poor English that the maidservant reports the death of the white Mr. Kurtz, who was considered a god in Congo. If he died, then he was not a god.
So the theme of disappointment arises, the theme of deceptive beliefs. The second epigraph, “Serve the Old Guy,” is connected with an old English tradition: every November 5, burn a scarecrow of Guy Fawkes, one of the conspirators who tried to undermine the English parliament. On the eve of November 5, children walk with a scarecrow and ask for a penny.
Then the scarecrow is burned. This epigraph hints at the similarity of the heroes of the poem, “empty people”, with the scarecrow of Guy Fawkes.
It also speaks of the life-giving fire for “empty people”, from which they must be cleansed or burned up if they are no longer capable of anything. Who are these “empty people”? So the poet calls his contemporaries who have lost faith, in whose souls there is only emptiness and trash, and there is no feeling, no essence. The poem has a complex system of the image of Death.
People have lost faith, and therefore do not believe in immortality. Unbelief in immortality, according to Eliot, is death. Therefore, “empty people” are already dead, although they live on earth.
We are empty people, Devastated people, Crammed with straw, We get bored, and we have straw brains. Like rustles, our whispers Quietly and like Cracking rustling powerless, Like the wind in a dry feather grass …
Another complex image passes through almost the entire poem – the image of the Eye. This image Eliot took from Dante. It is impossible, without meeting and not holding the gaze of Beatrice, to go to heaven.
“Empty people” are afraid of these eyes and strive to see them. But “empty people” are blind, and only the eyes of love, the eyes of Beatrice, can return their eyesight. The third image that enchants the reader is the image of Shadow, which symbolizes the loss of freedom and indecision.
A shadow falls on everything that “empty people” touch. Even when an attempt is made to remember a prayer, a shadow falls on it, turning the prayer into absurdity. All these images (“empty people”, “neighborhood of death”, “blind eyes” on the one hand, Beatrice, “eyes of love” on the other) create a peculiar poetic world of Eliot, and even for the reader who is not very familiar with literary traditions, their use makes a strong impression.
These images make you think about the issues that the poet decides in his work, think about the most important moral values that mankind is able to renounce.