By T.S. Elliot

Four for the Price of One

Preludes is comprised of four stanzas, each of which is sometimes referred to as its own poem. Because the first line of the first stanza is "The winter evening settles down," these stanzas could symbolize the four seasons. The second stanza would then signify Spring, shown by "The morning comes to consciousness." Summer in stanza 3 is signified by "And you heard the sparrows in the gutters," because birds are often referred to in Summer. The poem is concluded with a stanza symnolizing autumn.
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This poem does not tell a story as much as it describes the darkness and ugliness of human civilizations. The speaker begins describing the scenery of "The burnt-out ends of smoky days." In stanza three, there is a shift to second person as the speaker begins using the pronoun "you." The speaker seems disgusted tiwards this ominous "you," describing the subject as having yellowed feet or soiled hands, likely from hard work.
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Formal language is used in Preludes, likely with the purpose of the speaker distancing himself from the disgusting ghetto of a location and lower class worker subject. The poem left a sad mood, likely because of the negative connotation of a majority of the words used including "grimy," "withered, " "lonely," "dingy," and "sordid." The simile "The worlds revolve like ancient women/Gathering fuel in vacant lots" is used as a reflection on the speaker's own life, and how it is none more exciting than women gathering wood for a fire.
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Musical Devices

The rhyme scheme of this poem is rather irregular, which adds to the depressing and disgusted tone of the poem. The rhythm adds a monotonous feel to the poem, which was most likely on purpose because the speaker discusses at the end how monotonous his/her life is. There are no "sound effects" added to the poem, because the speaker wants it to be read and understood as a monotonous analysis of how disgustingly boring human life and living can be.


Eliot, T.S. "Preludes." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Magazine, n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2015.

Graffiti Ghetto Wallpaper. Digital image. Wallpapers Wide. WallpapersWide, n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2015.

Eliot, T.S. Preludes I. Digital image. Wordsmirch. Tumblr, 12 Aug. 2012. Web. 8 Mar. 2015.

Irminger, Valedmar H.N. A Woman Gathering Wood in Morning Light. 1923. Oil on canvas. N.p.