A Short Analysis of T. S. Eliot’s ‘Preludes’

Interesting Literature

A summary of a classic early Eliot poem

‘Preludes’ is a series of four short poems written by T. S. Eliot early in his career and published in his first collection, Prufrock and Other Observations, in 1917. In the following post we intend to sketch out a brief summary and analysis of ‘Preludes’, exploring the meaning of these short masterpieces and their significance for Eliot’s later poetry. You can read ‘Preludes’ here.

The first place to start with a summary of ‘Preludes’ is with the title. Eliot, who would effectively end his poetry career with a long work named Four Quartets, was fond of musical titles for his poems. A ‘prelude’ – literally ‘before the play’ – is a brief musical composition that is played before the main piece. This suggests that these poems are small-scale: as well as being short, they are seeking to capture something…

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