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Aunt Helen by T.S.Eliot

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Critical Analysis of the poem "Aunt Helen" The title of the poem is lamentable and affectionate. The narrator in the poem is Aunt Helen's nephew since Eliot states in the first line, "My maiden aunt". The poem is much like a eulogy for Aunt Helen. The form of the poem consists of one stanza containing thirteen lines. The poem is one line shy of an Elizabethan sonnet, he intentionally did not included fourteen lines in his stanza due to his unconventionality and he was concerned with portraying his message more than the style and techniques of poetry. The rhythm scheme is irregular, abcdeeccfghij, perhaps because of the nephew's sense of loss and awareness that humans are insignificant in this world and the idea of "Tempus Fugit", which ironically is re-enforced by an inanimate object, the Dresden clock. The reader is conscious of the fact that Helen is no longer alive; Eliot uses the past tense "was my maiden aunt" instead of referring to her in the present, "is my maiden aunt". ...read more.


The reader has now become intrigued and wants to find out want happened to aunt Helen and her current location. In line four, we realise why Eliot refers to Helen in the past tense because "she died". In honour of her death there was "Silence in heaven", as though even the angels were silent in honour of her life and grieving for her death. "Silence at her end of the street" evokes to the reader that perhaps she was popular among her community and that this woman was genuinely kind, warm- hearted woman. In line six, Eliot writes, "The shutters were drawn" which is symbolic of mourning, people would not let light into the house and would wear black as a sign of mourning. Eliot also states, "the undertaker wiped his feet", a sign of respect towards the deceased. The undertaker seems to be "aware that this sort of thing had occurred before", "sort of thing" is a euphemism for death and it is regarded as a minor circumstance, which on first reading may sound cruel or harsh, however the undertaker did not know this women, therefore he feels no personal or emotional loss and his job is associated with death and has become custom for him. ...read more.


action neither would have done in the presence of Helen, "always been so careful while her mistress lived" however neither feel guilty because they are only engaging in harmless flirting and moving on with their lives and having fun in the process, one never knows when their last days are coming to an end and the death of Helen has established this so the footman and the second housemaid are making the most of their lives while they still can. Eliot writes, "second housemaid" to perhaps convey that the first housemaid is also dead. The symbolic reference to the clock and the death of Helen and the parrot are an indication that death can at times be unexpected and that people should not repress themselves due to society's conventions because "Tempus Fugit". I like this poem because I do believe that life is too short to live by other people's expectations and requirements, no matter what one achieves you will not be able to please everyone, as a result i believe you should have fun with life while you still have the time and to be able to die without any regrets. ...read more.

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