T. S. Eliot: Ash-Wednesday

(2800 words)

Ash-Wednesday, published in 1930 (and originally carrying a dedication to Eliot’s first wife, Vivien), is the most important of Eliot’s Christian poems – the later Four Quartets, although perhaps a greater poetic achievement, is more of a philosophical work, for all its ultimate Christian meaning. In Ash-Wednesday, Eliot explores most closely the feminine inspiration for faith in a Dantean celebration of the Virgin as a figure of transcendental beauty. The portrait and characterisation of her, and the response of the speaker to her, together amount to an extraordinary reversal of the negative representation of women in Eliot’s earlier poetry and the concomitant revulsion from or fear of them which …

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Spurr, Barry. "Ash-Wednesday". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 29 December 2008
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=6528, accessed 29 September 2016.]