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.