Probably the most direct technique used by T. S. Eliot is the structure of the poem. Each stanza is introduced by a time, simply stated, and then a description of what the poet observes at that given hour. It starts at midnight, then moves to half-past one, and finally ends at four o'clock in the morning. An example is this:
The street lamp said,
"Remark the cat which flattens itself in the gutter,
Slips out its tongue
And devours a morsel of rancid butter."
Here, it is clear that the poet noted the hour. He imagines the street lamp speaking to him, directing his gaze to the hungry cat. Each stanza follows similar structure. This is a thoughtful decision by the poet, as the technique centers the reader in time and place for each stanza.
Another element of time is the use of memory. Throughout the poem, T. S. Eliot revisits remembered scenes. These are sparked by what he sees in the present, but they belong to another time. For example, at half-past three, the poet sees the moon and reflects on how it looks. That leads to
The reminiscence comes
Of sunless dry geraniums
And dust in crevices,
Smells of chestnuts in the streets,
And female smells in shuttered rooms,
And cigarettes in corridors
And cocktail smells in bars.
In this case, the sad face of the moon inspires memories of other scenes: a dried geranium plant, dusty corners, and conflicting smells, both sweet and rank. Here, we must place ourselves in a different time and place. Memory wanders, yet it still remains anchored in time as the clock ticks by hour after hour.