Leonardo Rubio English 12 Period 6 1/2/11 Sweeney Among the Nightingales This essay is written as a reader response to the poem written by T. S. Eliot, Sweeney Among the Nightingales. Unlike many other poems of his time, T. S. Eliot’s intention was to portray man as vulgar or mundane and having a pessimistic or cynical attitude. T. S. Eliot may have had a different view of life and people than other poets. He may not have viewed man as heroic or romantic, but more crude and reprehensible. It is difficult to say exactly what T. S.
Eliot was trying to convey or express through his poetry, because he wrote many inferences, which left a lot of his writing open to interpretation. He may have written much of his work as an outlet to his political or social views. The narrator presents this poem in third person. He sounds objective in reporting what he sees, but the language is somewhat difficult. This poem needs to be read several times and requires a lot of thought and some imagination. After reading this poem many times, it gets more understandable, but some parts remain difficult to understand.
Some of the difficulty in understanding the poem may come from the referencing of other literary characters. Some of the other characters mentioned are from other great literary works, but are not familiar. This made it necessary to look up these characters and learn what the comparison is. The writer does a good job in showing or describing the character, but does not do a good job in describing the setting. The writer brings the character to life, by comparing him to animals like an ape, zebra, and a giraffe. He is also compared him to another literary character.
From what is written, it sounds like the setting can be either a restaurant or a brothel. It makes more sense if it were a brothel, because one of the females goes to sit on Sweeney’s lap as he is sitting at a table, but she falls to the floor. You are left to assume she might have fallen because she was drunk. It also makes the reader think that the character, Sweeney is distrustful of the females involved. Therefore, it makes more sense to assume that it was set in a brothel or a place similar to it. In my opinion, the narrator or writer of this poem made it difficult to understand.
I consider myself simple and describe things in simpler terms. My view is also more optimistic and I like to consider myself more romantic than this writer. It would be difficult to write a poem about prostitution or something similar. It would seem easier to write about love, life and family. I also find it difficult to make so many comparisons, especially to other characters who I do not know. It would be difficult to step into this narrator’s situation and give the poem the meaning and emphasis he is trying to convey.
He may have had a difficult past or some kind of difficult situation in his life, which would cause him to write in this dark or negative manner. Because I am only 17 years of age and have not had many bad experiences, my writings would probably be more positive. I have not needed to overcome great challenges or difficult struggles in my life, therefore I would not have grim or dark things to write about. The poem, Sweeney among the Nightingales, by T. S. Eliot can be viewed as a social commentary. T. S. Eliot’s writings are considered dark and somewhat negative, but they
T. S. Eliot describes the character in the poem, but he may be using this to describe men in general. This poem compares the character to animals, which makes him appear crude and indecent. It also portrays him as distrusting, which makes him appear paranoid. This may have been the way to do social commentaries without being very offensive to anyone in particular. This also may have been the proper forum to do social commentaries in this time period. This poem has several characters that are important to the story or meaning. The first and most important character is Sweeney.
He appears to be the main character. He is compared to animals by the writer. The comparison to animals can make the character appear more barbaric or vulgar. This can also make him look somewhat of a bad person. The writer appears to make Sweeney look vulgar when he places him in what appears to be a brothel. Sweeney is also made to look as if he is paranoid. Sometimes paranoia or guilt is caused by past traumas. Sweeney’s character or personality is made to look distrustful, bad and vulgar. This could have been how the writer envisioned men in general. There are two females also in the poem.
The two females appear to be in a brothel, so they may be thought of as prostitutes or whores. The reason one may think that they are prostitutes is because one of the females tries to sit on Sweeney’s lap right in the beginning. She also fell and Sweeney did not help her. It also appears that they did not know each other. The two females are made to look as if they are plotting against Sweeny. This makes the two females appear as if they cannot be trusted. There are other characters in this poem. They appear to have more of a silent role. The poem talks about other figures, but does not name them.
It is somewhat difficult to understand if some of the other figures are other men or if they are referring to Sweeney. There is for sure a waiter in the poem. He appears to be an innocent bystander. He is just mentioned when he brings out food to the table. He does not appear to be important or necessary to the meaning of the poem. This poem leaves out important details that the reader must just infer or assume. The first important detail is the setting. The setting is either a restaurant or a brothel because there is a waiter. We can assume it is a brothel because one of the females goes to sit on Sweeney’s lap.
He does not trust the two females and ends up leaving the place. Another detail mentioned in the poem is when the nightingales are singing near. This is in reference to another literary work that mentions nightingales singing. This means when there are others talking about illicit things that are going on or the telling of promiscuous behavior. It is also assumed that T. S. Eliot is anti-semitic, because of how he portrays Rachel Nee Rabinovich as somewhat vulgar and unflattering. She is referred to having “murderous paws”. She is also one of the two females that appear to be plotting against Sweeney.
Some writers may use ways of writing where they leave it open to the readers interpretation. They leave it up to the reader to assume what is being said. This can be a very effective way to write, because their poem can have several meanings. Most people have different opinions and not everyone thinks alike. The poem can have different meanings to different people. The writer can also put out his opinions or social commentaries, but in a less offensive manner, because it is left open to interpretation. My experience or background with poems is not very extensive.
I have little experience in reading poems and much less experience in writing them. The ones I have read are not like this one. The poems I have had experience with are more modern or what could be considered as romantic. My minimal background in poetry influenced me to think this poem is a bit weird or unconventional. It was very difficult to understand because of the vocabulary and distinct phrases. It also referenced other literary work that I was not very familiar with. The use of inferences also made it difficult, because certain things were left open to interpretation.
The poems I have dealt with were not as complex. I prefer or am more accustomed to poems that rhyme or simple poems like roses are red, violets are blue, I’m going crazy and it’s all because of you. I also like poems that are more clear or understandable. Poems should flow and be easy to read and understand, if not then I lose interest. Sweeney Among the Nightingales, was difficult to understand and did not flow easily. It takes some imagination and love of poetry to enjoy this type of poem. After reading Sweeney Among the Nightingales, by T. S. Eliot, I found it somewhat difficult to understand.
It may be a great literary piece of work and be written by a great writer, but I was not very impressed. It was necessary to read it several times to grasp some understanding. It was also necessary to look up the meaning of several words. This poem also made many comparisons, which were difficult to understand. There were also many inferences that left room for assumptions. This is difficult for someone of my age, who does not have much experience or world knowledge. This poem appears to have been written as a social commentary of its era. There is a possibility that T. S.
Eliot may have had bad experiences in his life, and was using his writing as a way to bring out his point of view. This too is also an inference, because that information is not known. One would think positive or romantic things are written about happiness and love and negative or dark things are written about negative experiences or traumas. Michael Cummings, (2009). “Sweeney among the Nightingales”. Cummings study guide website, retrieved from: http://www. cummingsstudyguides. net/Guides6/Sweeney. html Poetry Foundation website, (2011). “Sweeney among the Nightingales”. http://www. poetryfoundation. org/poem/236780