T S Eliot's Rhapsody on A Windy Night!
T S Eliot's poem explores some 'flaneur' wandering like an insomniac refugee about the 'reaches' of some unnamed city, where even a prostitute hesitates to ply her trade in the poet's direction...just as in The Love song of J Alfred Prufrock, the poet seems isolated, sexually unfulfilled and possessed of an hallucinatory imagination bordering on the surreally febrile!
The brilliance of the poem seems to shine out from the unreliable lighting of the talking street lamps whose presence gives the poet a structure to his ostensible progression. Perception is thus connected to these pools of light and shade, with moral implications and existential questions lurking at the borders and hinterland of the poem .
Memory has become grotesque and disfigures all the shapes of the past. Things return to taunt us with their loss of symmetry. We have killed our hope?
Time erodes and returns the past to the wandering poet so damaged that the present becomes infected by cynicism and distrust. The perceptual bewilderment of Eliot's poet makes the final return of the poet to his solitary room with solitary toothbrush, a relief, even if the isolation of the verb 'mount' communicates teh bleakness of sexual unfulfillment and despondency. ( Anticipating Mr Bleaney by Larkin) The house has a 'real' number and appears welcomingly itself in the midst of the somnabulistic, nocturnal hauntings of a man very much on the verge of some mental collapse.
I admire the unsettling subversion of the phrase: ' prepare for life.' How can we prepare for our own inevitable death when we are spectators or bystanders on our own lives? Reading this poem today I could detect Larkin's shared sensibility too. Ennui as a refuge, style and linguistic choice. The resigned affection of the 'little lamp' after their chattering malignancies...