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Transcript of Poem Project
By T.S. Eliot
Steven Biggs Biography S'io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s'i'odo il vero,
Senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo.
“If I believed that my response was heard
by anyone returning to the world
this flame would stand and never stir again
but since no man has ever come alive
out of this gulf of Hell, if I hear true,
I'll answer, with no fear of infamy” From Dante's “The Divine Comedy” Eliot used this excerpt to start the poem off in a tone of confession.
In context of "The Divine Comedy" it is a confession of a sin and the punishment being reaped because of it, to Dante, who the confessor did not know would be returning from Hell, back to Earth.
The use of this excerpt is to provide a "full circle" understanding for the reader which cannot be understood until further into the poem. Let us go then, you and I,
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit. "Let us go, you and I"
companion in a romantic tone which
"Like a patient etherized upon a table"
abruptly ends it.
"Streets that follow like a tedious argument"
internal debate (confess feelings for a woman) Analysis In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo. intentionally focused on making it to their destination,
role as an observer which can be determined from the
point of view which is used. He's
detached and unimportant in the scene, while the
focus is on a highly admired and accomplished man.
emphasizes his dissatisfaction with himself. Thomas Stearns Eliot
born 1888 in St. Louis, Missouri
Eliot was the youngest of seven children
He founded and, during the seventeen years of its publication, edited the exclusive journal Criterion.
Due to his outstanding works such as “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” “The Waste Land” and “The Four Quartets,” Eliot was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948.
He married Valerie Fletcher in 1956 and experienced the peaceful home life that he did not have during his first marriage to Vivienne Haigh-Wood, a Cambridge governess in 1915 which ended unhappily in divorce.
Had much to do with his writing
Celibate until age 26 (sexual frustration theme)
died at the age of 77, 1965. The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep. metaphor of a cat
emphasizing his detachment And indeed there will be time
To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: "How his hair is growing thin!"]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse. His indecisiveness of deciding "Do I dare"
steming from feelings of inadequacy increase
want to turn back and "descend that stair" instead of just be a detached on looker as before.
see only his imperfections and how he perceives others think of them.
He knows that any assertion, whatever the out come, either way will change his entire universe as he knows it
changes his mind time and again on his actions, words, and decisions. reevaluating the importance and pleasure from certain situations.
making his assertion, by confiding a deeply personal fear and experience of dying
she realize that he has a completely different track for their relationship than what she does.
rejection would be worth the possibility of it ending as he hopes.
allusion to “To His Coy Mistress” by Marvell
and Bible We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown. satisfies himself in observing opportunity and beauty
that is taken and he realizes it is only his imagination
disappointment is more harsh than drowning, part of even his greatest fear. The feelings of inadequacy, indecision and loneliness are exemplified in the stream of consciousness of J. Alfred Prufrock. He yearns to have the courage to go after that which he desires most. He [Prufrock] is compared to Hamlet who was of great importance, unlike how he views himself. Just as a minor character would, he feels as someone who is present just to fill the scene and, occasionally, succeed in providing comedy although usually at his own expense. He knows his downfalls of over thinking, his weaknesses being those of fear of judgement, and death. His weakness are also clear to him in his digression as he familiarizes himself with a woman such as her smell and the feminine delicacies about her. But his inadequacies, fears, and preconceptions of himself and others hold him back from obtaining true happiness. Instead of sharing his fears, he ends up enveloped in the very experience, death, which he escaped once, but then created his own internal hell in which he must now live. It is here that we can connect the reference to "The Divine Comedy" as that of an antithesis. Where Guido da Montefeltro, the punished character, confides his secret, Prufrock does not but finds it no better. Summary similes, personification, repetition, allusion, and imagery.
ex. Allusions like "I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter, I am no prophet", he is referring to John the Baptist.
Also "I am an attendant lord"
characterizing Prufrock as a sad and lonely man, just like the tone.
ex. Similes such as "the evening... spread out against the sky like a patient etherized upon a table" describes the outdoor setting that is opposite of the party setting later in the poem.
Personification seen in the poem includes "The yellow fog that rugs its back upon the window panes". This is used to set the sad mood and tone of the poem and to provide his infamous metaphors of cats.
cacophonies such as his use of words such as "etherized."
He uses repetition in the poem. The repeated line "In the room the women come and go talking of Michaelangelo"
repeats "How should I presume" ect.
illustrates the lack of courage, indecision, and confessionary likeness that ties into the theme. Literary Elements The Colonel
By Carolyn Forche What you have heard is true. I was in his house. His wife carried a tray of coffee and sugar. His daughter filed her nails, his son went out for the night. There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on its black cord over the house. Declaring the controversy of the situation, the speaker begins to recount their experience.
Normal scene until they notice a pistol in the living room.
The situation is as delicate is if it were dangling by a cord. On the television was a cop show. It was in English. Broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to scoop the kneecaps from a man's legs or cut his hands to lace. On the windows there were gratings like those in liquor stores. notices the tv show being in English
clue to the environment, as well as the further
notice violent precautions taken by the home owners
entail paranoia, or worse, a need of such terrifying protections. We had dinner, rack of lamb, good wine, a gold bell was on the table for calling the maid. The maid brought green mangoes, salt, a type of bread. I was asked how I enjoyed the country. There was a brief commercial in
Spanish. His wife took everything away. There was some talk of how difficult it had become to govern. The parrot said hello on the terrace. The colonel told it to shut up, and pushed himself from the table. My friend said to me with his eyes: say nothing. The family the speaker is visiting is presumably of great wealth.
Enough to have fine meal and a maid
Confirmation of speaker being in foreign place
formalities; being asked how they're enjoying the country, Spanish being spoken on the television (alludes to what type of country)
The family is distancing themselves
Talk of difficulty Governing adds to the already intimidating environment
An oppression can be sensed in the household and is solidified by the speaker and companion's communications being restricted to pleading eyes. The colonel returned with a sack used to
bring groceries home. He spilled many human ears on the table. They were like dried peach halves. There is no other way to say this. He took one of them in his hands, shook it in our faces, dropped it into a water glass. It came alive there. I am tired of fooling around he said. As for the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go f--- themselves. The shock of the situation is prominent and the first reaction is the only one that does justice
The speaker and companion, had pressed the issue of human rights and interviewing for a piece of poetry, presumably on that topic. Aggression and hostility is generalized as the country's itself towards foreign ideas, movements, and any who seek information of such delicate topics.
The ears represent the citizens urge for justice, that even in times of oppression they would come alive like the ear in water.
Some would hear the true malice of the government, and the sparing hope of outside help, while others would remain oppressed. He swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held the last of his wine in the air. Something for your poetry, no? he said. Some of the ears on the floor caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the ears on
the floor were pressed to the ground.
May 1978 Carolyn Forché
born in 1950 in Detroit, Michigan.
Some of Forché's most famous books of poetry include “Blue Hour” (2004); “The Angel of History” (1994), and “The Country Between Us” (1982).
She has been to El Salvador three times and her poems often reflect the scenes that she sees
She's a major activist for Human Rights Oppression and physical mistreatment in the late 1970s was predominant in many foreign countries. Carolyn Forche had visited El Salvador multiple times and each time had gained a new lesson, most of which being political. The experiences she had inspired her writing and in this poem it can be seen how effective art can be used as a medium of protest, such as for human rights as this poem is. Oppression, liberation, and corporeal violation are the main themes in this poem as it reflects on how a government can keep people suppressed by intimidation and fear. Not only is it telling of suppression, but also how easily it can be to inspire hope and justice even in the worst of environments. Not all will hear the call to arms, or the whispers of hope, but defying all odds there will be some who "come alive". imagery “The Colonel”
ordinary surroundings against out of the ordinary items such as “there were daily papers, pet dogs, and a pistol on the cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on its black cord over the house”.
implies a sense of honesty in that it's all very descriptive, yet nothing is without purpose.
Diction of the poem uses plain and stark language. The style the poem is written in also imposes a dark heavy feeling as the tone is.
The point of view in which it's written is first person, but it skillfully gives a distance to the reader, much as would have been experienced.
Forsche’s lines are short, with every word having meaning and using no extra words.
The strict wording illustrates the tension in the poem.
The poem leaves a profound sense of moralism Biography Summary Literary Elements To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea. reinvent himself
feels the need to alter himself to be acceptable and desirable
overthinking before "action" is taken I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And i have see the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
and in short, I was afraid. And would it have been worth it, after all,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say:"I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all"
Should say: "That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all." Passed the peak of his youth
Experienced near death
traumatized by it No! I'm not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord,... Prufrock feels unimportant
Like an unimportant figure in a scene For I have known them all already, known them all-
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
And I have known the eyes already, known them all-
And I have known the arms already, known them all-
It is perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
How should I presume? He knows his imperfections, his tendencies to overthink
He knows the judgements of others, being examined and evaluated
He wonders if he should change his appearence, his actions, redefine himself
He knows his weaknesses
is lack of confidence around women Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?... Prufrock relates to this for he too longs for a woman
Relates to the cat/smoke metaphore and emphasizes lonelyness and detachment Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare eat a peach?
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me. Prufrock fears even his greatest decisions will be unimportant
He has seen certain beauty
lonelyness alters his thoughts to a pessimistic view of his life 1. What do does Eliot describe the streets as?
2. What do the women talk of while they come and go?
b. Monet Van Gogh
c. The weather
3. What "rubbed it’s muzzle on the window-panes?"
a. a dog
b. a brown coyote
c. the clouds
d. the yellow smoke
4. Which is *not* a description of the narrator in stanza four?
a. losing his teeth
b. getting thin
c. going bald
d. being lonely
5. With what has the narrator measured out his life?
a. measuring cups
b. coffee spoons
c. yard sticks
d. measuring tapes
6. Who does the narrator not think will sing to him?
the women who come and go, talking of Michelangelo
a. the gods
b. his friends
7. The narrator laments of growing old with the following lines.
"Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a [what]?
d. apricot Quiz c. Mean
d. Yellow Smoke
a. Loosing his Teeth
b. Coffee Spoons
b. Peach Answers 1. What is the colonel’s personality like?
2. Where can we assume the poem is set in?
b. El Salvador
3. Forsche noticed all these things on the couch EXCEPT:
a. Daily newspaper
b. Pet Dogs
4. After the meal, the general brings in a large grocery bag of what?
b. Human feet
d. Human ears
5. What was the purpose of the poem stating “some of the ears caught the scrap of his voice?”
a. To show oppression
b. To show resilience
c. To represent outside help
d. To show Forche’s obsession with ears Quiz a. Remorseless
b. El Salvador
d. Human Ears
b. To Show Resilience Answers