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A Section-by-Section Summary of T. S. Eliot’s Ash-Wednesday

A summary of a major Eliot poem

The following constitutes a very brief summary of the six sections of T. S. Eliot’s long poem Ash-Wednesday (1930), which was the first major poem Eliot wrote after his conversion to Christianity in 1927. (That same year, he wrote ‘Journey of the Magi’, but Ash-Wednesday was a poem on an altogether larger scale – so the following brief summary may help to clarify the ‘narrative’ of the poem and how it charts the religious journey of the poet.

Part I introduces the speaker, who is a person without hope, for whom the world holds few pleasures. Life has lost its meaning and joy because the speaker has lost his faith. There are echoes here of ‘The Hollow Men’: the idea of a person in a sense cast out from the world of life and growth. The speaker renounces all earthly and temporal things, and acknowledges the emptiness of worldly aspirations and ambitions (see the image of his ‘wings’ as merely ‘vans to beat the air’, rather than to soar up into higher things). Read the rest of this entry


A Short Analysis of John Donne’s ‘A Hymn to God the Father’

A summary of a classic Donne poem

‘A Hymn to God the Father’ is one of John Donne’s most famous religious poems. As the Donne scholar P. M. Oliver observed, what makes Donne’s poem unusual and innovative is that, in ‘A Hymn to God the Father’, Donne has written a hymn that does not set out to praise God so much as engage him in a debate. The poem is one of Donne’s most masterly holy poems. Below are a few words of analysis.

A Hymn to God the Father

Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
For I have more. Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of Andrew Marvell’s ‘The Coronet’

A summary of a classic Marvell poem

‘The Coronet’ is a poem by the English Metaphysical poet Andrew Marvell (1621-78). In this post, we offer a brief summary and analysis of ‘The Coronet’, focusing on its language and meaning and suggesting some ways of interpreting this challenging poem.

The Coronet

When for the thorns with which I long, too long,
With many a piercing wound,
My Saviour’s head have crowned,
I seek with garlands to redress that wrong:
Through every garden, every mead,
I gather flowers (my fruits are only flowers),
Dismantling all the fragrant towers
That once adorned my shepherdess’s head. Read the rest of this entry