What is a summary of the poem "Preludes" by T. S. Eliot?

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ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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At the very beginning of the artistic era called the Modern era, T. S. Eliot was at the forefront of creative literary experimentation.  When he was a young man and still a student he had a nervous breakdown and problems with his Christian faith.  This early poem, “Preludes,” was written over an extended period of time and is broken up into several parts.  The poem pretty much deals with the story of people who are spiritually worn out.  These people live in a crowded, dirty, and impersonal city. It is about their struggles to maintain and survive this disgusting culture they find themselves living in and trying to hold on to their faith.   The theme of the poem describes this lack of faith and dying spirituality of these people living in an immoral and irredeemable society.

"Isolation and depersonalization are themes represented by the scarce, fragmentary, and anonymous human images in this urban setting. The “lonely cab-horse” waits for someone while rain and wind sweep across vacant lots. “The lighting of the lamps” suggests a human action in nearly deserted streets, but it is expressed only as a fragment floating at the end of prelude I."

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