Give a detailed analysis of form, structure, language, and themes in T. S. Eliot's poem "Whispers of Immortality."
T. S. Eliot's "Whispers of Immortality" is a poem of eight quatrains, divided into two parts of fours quatrains each. The rhyme scheme is ABCB, with some use of slant rhyme. The meter is generally iambic tetrameter, with a little variation. The title of Eliot's poem refers satirically to Wordsworth's Ode "Intimations of Immortality," and the whole poem is highly referential and satirical, with macabre language emphasizing the shocking images. The first part of the poem concentrates on death, the second on sex; although the two are mingled, particularly at the end of each part.
The poem begins with John Webster, the Jacobean playwright who was "much possessed by death." Webster's plays certainly include a great deal of death, as well as much else of the darker side of life: madness, sadism, corruption and terror. In Eliot's account, Webster is so obsessive about death that he sees it everywhere, so that any human face becomes a skull and every body a skeleton. John Donne, the poet and clergyman who was Webster's contemporary, has a similar viewpoint, though in his case, it seems to be the product of "experience" and learning. Donne wrote both religious poetry and love poetry, and Eliot suggests here that both types of poem were about unsatisfied and unsatisfiable longing:
No contact possible to fleshAllayed the fever of the bone.
But our lot crawls between dry ribsTo keep our metaphysics warm.
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