Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rhapsody on a Windy Night

"Rhapsody on a Windy Night" is another very important poem of this collection which unfolds many new and old shades of human relations. The title of the poem suggests an ironical reversal of romantic connotations of the poem, and the images used in the poem provide ratification to Eliot's debt to symbolise masters like Le Baudlaire and Laffergue. The woman in the poem strikes us with manifold intensity of symbolic manifestation. The togetherness of man and woman illustrate scepticism, and isolation characterizing the urban milieu. The cultural–disintegration is elucidated through the seduction of the woman before the arrival of the protagonist. The action ceases to be action and amounts to mean inaction and this inaction creates a milieu of Dante's Limbo. The words of Stephen Spender capture attention. He takes the 'modern life' to be 'a fragmentary Hell, a Hell devoid of consistency, too stupid to punish anyone, and without any moral severity' (10) characterized by 'a dead sameness about all their activities' (p. 112).
The poem opens with reference to time – Twelve o' clock (L. 1) and the midnight 'shakes the memory' (L. 11). The woman comes with the 'border of her dress' (L. 19) which is 'torn and stained with sand' (L. 20). The constant reference to time suggests the advancement of action which is not action at all but the advancement of action is subservient to the movement of time. At "Half past three”:
She winks a feeble eye.
She smiles into corners.
She smooths her hair grass.
The moon has lost her memory.
(Ll. (52–55)
An analytical survey of the action of the woman makes us realize the pervasion of inaction in the contemporary cultural set up. The poem records the memory of a young man as he makes his movement towards his rented room through the storm where prostitutes live and play their sordid business. There is profound irony in the portraiture of the woman. The image of the open door as a 'grin' illustrate the nature of emotion of the woman with all its metaphorical magnificence, in the socio–cultural set up of time and space. There are suggestions of mechanical attitude towards sex and of consequent ratification of the theme of life in death and death in life. The image of 'crooked pin" (L. 22) owes its genesis to the rapid commercialization of contemporary Europe and consequent degeneration of human values and action. The image of the moon draws a very close parallel with the woman in the poem. The beauty and mystic charm of the moon has been replaced by the artificial glow of electric bulbs and multi–coloured lamps.
The last stanza of the poem culminates the motif. The cyclic interdependence of life in death and death in life in action which ceases to be action. 'Life that falls close to death', there is love with indifference and detachment.
The bed is open : the toothbrush hands on the
Put you shoes at the door, sleep, prepare for life.
The last twists of the knife. (76-78)
It is clear from the above discussion that "Rhapsody of the Windy Night" is an important poem from the point of view of delineation of the woman character with metaphorical magnificence. The idea of cultural disintegration, the milieu of waste, indifference and detachment. The woman in the poem plays a very important role in delineating the cultural disintegration, social disorder and spiritual vacuum. "Rhapsody on a Windy Night" says I.C.C. Mays, 'charts a progress through the night towards a mounting stair, and then nothing' (p. 112). The nothing out of dross and chaos is represented aptly by the woman in the poem.