'Rhapsody On A Windy Night' by T.S. Eliot

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Twelve o'clock.
Along the reaches of the street
Held in a lunar synthesis,
Whispering lunar incantations
Dissolve the floors of memory
And all its clear relations,
Its divisions and precisions,
Every street lamp that I pass
Beats like a fatalistic drum,
And through the spaces of the dark
Midnight shakes the memory
As a madman shakes a dead geranium.

Half-past one,
The street lamp sputtered,
The street lamp muttered,
The street lamp said, "Regard that woman
Who hesitates towards you in the light of the door
Which opens on her like a grin.
You see the border of her dress
Is torn and stained with sand,
And you see the corner of her eye
Twists like a crooked pin."

The memory throws up high and dry
A crowd of twisted things;
A twisted branch upon the beach
Eaten smooth, and polished
As if the world gave up
The secret of its skeleton,
Stiff and white.
A broken spring in a factory yard,
Rust that clings to the form that the strength has left
Hard and curled and ready to snap.

Half-past two,
The street lamp said,
"Remark the cat which flattens itself in the gutter,
Slips out its tongue
And devours a morsel of rancid butter."
So the hand of a child, automatic,
Slipped out and pocketed a toy that was running along the quay.
I could see nothing behind that child's eye.
I have seen eyes in the street
Trying to peer through lighted shutters,
And a crab one afternoon in a pool,
An old crab with barnacles on his back,
Gripped the end of a stick which I held him.

Half-past three,
The lamp sputtered,
The lamp muttered in the dark.

The lamp hummed:
"Regard the moon,
La lune ne garde aucune rancune,
She winks a feeble eye,
She smiles into corners.
She smoothes the hair of the grass.
The moon has lost her memory.
A washed-out smallpox cracks her face,
Her hand twists a paper rose,
That smells of dust and old Cologne,
She is alone
With all the old nocturnal smells
That cross and cross across her brain."
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."

The lamp said,
"Four o'clock,
Here is the number on the door.
You have the key,
The little lamp spreads a ring on the stair,
The bed is open; the tooth-brush hangs on the wall,
Put your shoes at the door, sleep, prepare for life."

The last twist of the knife.

Anonymous submission.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Rhapsody On A Windy Night: A Classic Poem by T.S. Eliot

Have you ever read a poem that transports you to a particular moment in time, a specific feeling or emotion? A poem that captures the essence of a particular season, a particular time of day, or even a particular type of weather? Well, if you haven't, then you're in for a treat with T.S. Eliot's Rhapsody on a Windy Night.

This poem is one of Eliot's early works, written in 1915, but it's still as relevant and relatable today as it was back then. It is a poem that speaks to the human experience, to the essence of existence, and to the beauty and tragedy of life.

The Poem's Structure and Themes

The poem is structured in five stanzas, each with six lines. It has no rhyme scheme or regular meter, but it does have a musical quality to it, which is fitting given its title. The poem is a rhapsody, a musical composition that is free-flowing and improvisational in nature, and this is reflected in its structure and rhythm.

The poem's themes are centered around time, memory, and the fleeting nature of life. The poem is set in the dark, windy night, a time of day when the world seems to slow down, and people are left alone with their thoughts and memories. The wind is a symbol of change, of the passing of time, and of the inevitability of death. The poem is a meditation on these themes, an attempt to capture the essence of life and death in a single moment.

The Poem's Language and Imagery

The language of the poem is simple and direct, but it is also poetic and evocative. Eliot uses a range of literary devices, including metaphor, simile, and personification, to bring the poem to life. For example, he personifies the street lamps, making them seem like living beings:

The streetlamp sputtered The streetlamp muttered The streetlamp said, "Regard that woman Who hesitates toward you in the light of the door Which opens on her like a grin.

The imagery in the poem is also powerful and evocative. Eliot describes the night as "black ice" and "a woman's perfumed handkerchief", capturing the sense of mystery and danger that the night can hold. He also uses vivid descriptions of the city streets, with their "broken blinds and chimney-pots" and "sooty hands", to create a sense of urban decay and despair.

The Poem's Meaning and Interpretation

So, what does Rhapsody on a Windy Night mean? Well, that's the beauty of poetry – it can mean different things to different people. However, there are a few key themes and interpretations that are commonly explored when discussing this poem.

One interpretation is that the poem is a meditation on the transience of life. The wind is a symbol of change and impermanence, and the poem suggests that everything in life is temporary and fleeting. The woman in the poem, who hesitates toward the speaker, represents this transience, as she seems to be both present and absent at the same time. She is a symbol of the past, of lost opportunities and missed connections, but also of the future, of the unknown and the uncertain.

Another interpretation is that the poem is a commentary on the isolation and despair of modern urban life. The dark, windy night is a metaphor for the sense of loneliness and alienation that many people feel in the city. The broken blinds and chimney-pots represent the decay and emptiness of urban life, while the woman's hesitation suggests the difficulty of connecting with others in this environment.

Finally, the poem can be interpreted as a celebration of the beauty and magic of life, even in its darkest moments. The wind and the night may be symbols of change and impermanence, but they are also sources of mystery and wonder. The woman's hesitation, though tinged with sadness and regret, is also a moment of possibility and hope. The poem suggests that even in the midst of darkness and despair, there is still beauty and magic to be found.


In conclusion, Rhapsody on a Windy Night is a classic poem that continues to speak to readers today. It is a poem that captures the essence of life and death, of joy and sadness, of hope and despair. Its language and imagery are powerful and evocative, and its themes and interpretations are rich and complex. Whether you're a lover of poetry or a newcomer to the genre, this poem is sure to leave an impression on you. So, go ahead and give it a read – you won't be disappointed.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Rhapsody On A Windy Night: A Masterpiece of Modernist Poetry

T.S. Eliot is one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, known for his innovative style and profound insights into the human condition. His poem, Rhapsody On A Windy Night, is a prime example of his genius, blending vivid imagery, haunting symbolism, and a deep sense of existential angst. In this article, we will explore the themes, structure, and language of this classic work, and discover why it continues to captivate readers today.

The poem begins with a description of a sleepless night, as the speaker wanders the streets of a city in the grip of a storm. The wind is a constant presence, howling through the empty streets and rattling the windows of the houses. The speaker is acutely aware of the passing of time, as the clock strikes twelve and the night deepens. The imagery is vivid and unsettling, creating a sense of foreboding and unease.

As the poem progresses, the speaker's thoughts turn to memories of the past, and the people and places that have shaped his life. He recalls a woman he once knew, who is now dead or gone, and wonders what has become of her. He also reflects on the transience of life, and the inevitability of death. The language is rich and evocative, with phrases like "the memory throws up high and dry" and "the broken fingernails of dirty hands" creating a sense of decay and despair.

One of the key themes of the poem is the idea of time and memory. The speaker is haunted by the past, and struggles to come to terms with the passing of time. He is acutely aware of the transience of life, and the fact that everything he has known and loved will eventually fade away. This sense of impermanence is reflected in the imagery of the poem, with references to "the broken toys and empty cradles" and "the burnt-out ends of smoky days". The wind, too, is a symbol of the passage of time, blowing through the streets and carrying away the memories of the past.

Another important theme is the idea of isolation and alienation. The speaker is alone in the city at night, and feels disconnected from the world around him. He is unable to connect with other people, and is haunted by a sense of loneliness and despair. This sense of alienation is reflected in the language of the poem, with phrases like "the streetlamp sputtered" and "the moon has lost her memory" creating a sense of disconnection and disorientation.

The structure of the poem is also worth noting. It is written in free verse, with no set rhyme or meter. This gives the poem a sense of spontaneity and fluidity, as if the speaker's thoughts are tumbling out in a stream of consciousness. The lack of structure also reflects the chaotic and unpredictable nature of the storm, and the sense of disorientation that the speaker feels.

The language of the poem is rich and evocative, with a range of literary devices used to create a sense of atmosphere and mood. There are frequent references to light and darkness, with the streetlamp and moon providing a contrast between illumination and shadow. The use of metaphor and simile is also prominent, with phrases like "the streetlamp sputtered like a wounded thing" and "the moon has lost her memory" creating vivid and memorable images.

In conclusion, Rhapsody On A Windy Night is a masterpiece of modernist poetry, blending vivid imagery, haunting symbolism, and a deep sense of existential angst. The themes of time, memory, isolation, and alienation are explored with skill and sensitivity, and the structure and language of the poem are both innovative and effective. It is a work that continues to captivate readers today, and stands as a testament to T.S. Eliot's enduring legacy as one of the greatest poets of the 20th century.

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