Explain how Eliot uses language and imagery to suggest the kind of neighborhood he is describing in his poem "The Winter Evening Settles Down."

Eliot uses language and imagery that suggests the "burnt-out" and hurried end of a long day. The neighborhood setting is dilapidated and abandoned. Freshly devoid of people, it is lonely, empty, and deserted. Eliot's metaphors also add to the mood of the neighborhood, making readers feel its smoke and desolation.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In "The Winter Evening Settles Down," T.S. Eliot uses careful word choice suggesting a once-busy neighborhood that is now falling asleep:

With the line "[...] smells of steaks in passageways," Eliot evokes the sense of a bustling place gone quiet in a hurry. There were people there so recently that you can still smell their lingering dinners haunting the passageways. The abandoned newspapers, too, suggest a very sudden exodus—a newspaper is current, immediate, up-to-date. For it to have been left, someone must have been there quite recently.

Throughout the poem, he also uses words that bring to mind something moving to the end of its life cycle. The line referencing "burnt-out ends of smoky days" suggests that the day is akin to a cigarette or cigar. It's been smoked all the way through now, and all that's left is a stub. Shortly thereafter, he mentions "withered leaves." While the day will start again in the morning, he's distinctively shifting toward a sense of finality in these...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 865 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team