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 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