• This simile subverts the Romantic tradition of "evening" symbolizing tranquility and beauty, a tradition evident in William Wordsworth's 1804 poem "It Is a Beauteous Evening."  Instead, Eliot's evenings are often characterized by "nocturnal depression and near insanity" (Piers Gray, T. S. Eliot's Intellectual and Poetic Development p. 56).

  • Compare Eliot's "Prelude IV": "His soul stretched tight across the skies / That fade behind a city block."

  • It Is a Beauteous Evening

    It is a beauteous evening calm and free,
    The holy time is quiet as a Nun
    Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
    Is sinking down in its tranquility;
    The gentleness of heaven broods o'er the Sea:
    Listen! The mighty Being is awake,
    And doth with his eternal motion make
    A sound like thunder--everlastingly,
    Dear Child! dear Girl! that walkest with me here,
    It thou appear untouched by solemn thought,
    Thy nature is not therefore less divine:
    Thou liest in Abraham's bosom all the year,
    And worship'st at the Temple's inner shrine,
    God being with thee when we know it not.