Response to Whispers of Immortality by T.S Eliot

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Response to Whispers of Immortality by T.S. Eliot Eliot’s Whispers of Immortality is a sensual representation of allure, intellectualism and man’s resistance to sensuality. The title is taken from William Wordsworth’s, Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood, an ode regarding the loss of innocence in experience. Eliot’s title refers to how people seek the achievement of immortality through their legacy, and how as knowledge grows, the awareness of mortality is heightened and people are more wary of their actions and thus less likely to live life to the fullest. The opening line, “Webster was much possessed by death”, is a reference to 17th century dramatist John Webster. This line is followed by imagery of a rotting corpse, reflecting the portrayals of lust, violence and death that were so prominent in his works. Throughout the first stanza, Eliot portrays an image of mortality with the corpse. His use of sibilance in describing how, ‘[Webster] saw the skill beneath the skin’, draws attention to and further emphasises the hissing feel of the title. Whispers of Immortality depicts imagery of hissing rumours; reminding the reader that in life they create the image of themselves they wish to remain after they relinquish this power in death. The almost threatening tone of the poem attempts to evoke fear in the reader by reminding them of this mortality. The whispers that create this everlasting reputation bring to mind a poem of Dante’s, from which Eliot takes the epigraph to Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. The epigraph depicts a character from Dante’s Inferno, who after death takes exhaustive steps to avoid saying anything wrong, that may be carried back to Earth from the underworld and affect his reputation or further his punishment in purgatory. Eliot’s description of ‘Daffodil bulbs instead of balls’ occupying the eyes of the corpse,
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