Imagery : Used in T. S. Eliot's Poetry

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       Introduction : Images imply pictures or other sense impression, conveyed in words. An image in poetry is a word or expression which appeals directly to the eye, the ear, or the sense of taste, touch and smell. By and large poet's images take the form of similes and metaphors which are used either for effective communication of meaning, or for decorative purposes. The main function of images is to concretise an abstract idea or an inner state of mind so that it may be very clear to the reader. Eliot's use of imagery is directed to clarifying subtle and spiritual ideas. He is concerned with complexities of modern civilisation and Such complexities can be made crystal clear by means of comparison with concrete or physical things. Moreover, they tend to secure the fidelity of the experiences of the poet. Pattern of Eliot's Images. Eliot's images are drawn from various sources and they can be categorised as under:

(1) months and seasons of the year.

(2) flowers and gardens.

(3) water and lake and sea.

(4) images derived from ancient myths both Christians and non-Christian.

(5) images based upon ancient literature and philosophy.

(6) images derived from components of human body.

(7) images dealing with paraphernalia of the city streets...fog, smoke chimney etc.

(8) images of sex activities, particularly the perversities of sex.

(9) images of fire and thunder.

(10) images of stairs.


Most of the images can be found in The Waste Land, Ash Wednesday and Four Quartets. Eliot's use of images is deliberate, conscious and functional. His aim is not so much to beautify the language as to concretize some concept or feeling.
Imageries in Eliot's poetry


      Most of the images can be found in The Waste Land, Ash Wednesday and Four Quartets. Eliot's use of images is deliberate, conscious and functional. His aim is not so much to beautify the language as to concretize some concept or feeling.

Characteristics of T.S. Eliot's Images :-

      (i) Eliot's images are intended to shock and startle the reader. In Rhapsody on a Windy Night, there is the image of a prostitute standing against the open door, the open door is compared to a grin which is suggestive of the mood of the scene. Similarly, the typist is compared to human engine waiting like a taxi throbbing.

      (ii) Sometime the images are compressed together as in The Five Sermon or in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

      (iii) Sometimes images used are ironic through contrast. For example, "I have measured out my life with coffee spoons." Similarly there is irony of situation in The Waste Land Where the typist girl engages in sex as a routine mechanical recreation - "where lovely woman stoops to folly and puts a record on the gramophone." Such ironic images heighten the sense of spiritual barrenness and decay.

      (iv) There are picture images of people or objects at a particular moment of time or action. Such are the images as Madame Sosostris, the fortune teller; there is Mr. Eugenides, the fun-loving merchant and typist girl. The images of such persons bring with them hosts of associations and also supply a setting where these persons can function.

      (v) Metaphysical Images, Eliot borrowed the metaphysical conceits from Donne and his contemporaries. There are a number of conceits in The Love Song of  J. Alfred Prufrock. Such conceits take the form of symbol-images which suggest a lot more than what is actually described. For example, the fog is compared to cat. Similarly Prufrock's mind is compared with a patient on the operation table. He is conscious but conscious of nothing. His mind is a kind of vaccum. Ash Wednesday contains a lot of symbol images as for instance the three leopards, the lady in white, the winding stair, etc. Such symbols partake both of imagery and symbolism. It may be noted that the images of Eliot are quite precise and accurate, though they convey an intellectual or emotional complex. They are rich in their connotation and associations.

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