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Is there any figurative language in "The Dry Salvages" from Four Quartets by TS Eliot

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brigomez | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 9, 2011 at 3:43 AM via web

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Is there any figurative language in "The Dry Salvages" from Four Quartets by TS Eliot

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 9, 2011 at 4:16 AM (Answer #1)

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Yes.  Certainly.

Keep in mind the definition of figurative language: description that relies on comparisons between two things that are not necessarily alike.  Figurative language comes in several forms:

  • similes: comparisons using the words "like" or "as"
  • metaphors: direct comparisons which can be short and to the point or extended over several lines
  • personification: a more specific metaphor that compares something inhuman with a person.

I encourage you to reread this poem keeping the above definitions in mind.  The entire poem uses images from "The Dry Salvages" an outcropping of rocks off the coast of Massachusetts.  In it, Eliot paints the beauty and majesty of the place and nature itself in his figurative language.  He especially focuses on water imagery to look into deeper questions of life, timelessness, eternity, immortality, and spirituality.

A few examples to get you started are:

I think that the river is a strong brown god (ln. 1): personification that extends over several lines.

The river is within us (ln. 15) metaphor

oppression of the silent fog (ln. 46) metaphor

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