"The winter evening settles down" is the first line of the poem called "Preludes" by T.S. Eliot. The poem describes a sordid, grimy, lower-class neighborhood in an industrialized city in the early twenthieth century.
In the first stanza, Eliot gives the impression of a dirty working-class neighborhood with its smells of food, "grimy scraps of withered leaves," newspapers in vacant lots, and broken window blinds. The second stanza reinforces the impressions of the first as it describes morning in the city. Eliot writes of the smell of beer, muddy streets sprinkled with sawdust, and people raising "dingy shades" in their "furnished rooms."
The third stanza introduces a specific character in the second person who is waking to a day in the city. This person hears sparrows singing in the gutters. Normally, hearing birds singing in the morning would be cheerful, but sparrows are common in cities, and here they sing in the gutters and not while sitting in foliage. The character referred to as "you" has "yellow soles" and "soiled hands," implying a hard working life. In the fourth stanza, the poet writes of a "blackened street" and an "infinitely suffering thing."
All these sensory impressions give us a picture of a dirty, desolate, depressing neighborhood in a big city.