A Short Analysis of T. S. Eliot’s ‘Sweeney Erect’

Posted: July 11, 2017 by vequinox in Literature

Interesting Literature

A summary of T. S. Eliot’s ‘brothel poem’

The figure of Sweeney features in several poems by T. S. Eliot: ‘Sweeney Erect’, ‘Sweeney among the Nightingales’, ‘Mr Eliot’s Sunday Morning Service’ (where we find him in the bath in the final stanza), The Waste Land (where he gets a passing mention), and the play, Sweeney Agonistes, a sort of jazz-drama which Eliot sadly abandoned, though he reprinted two scenes from this experimental piece of modernist theatre in his Collected Poems.

But ‘Sweeney’ makes his debut in ‘Sweeney Erect’, a poem in quatrains which originally appeared in Eliot’s second volume, Poems, in 1919 (reprinted in 1920). You can read ‘Sweeney Erect’ here; what follows are some words by way of analysis about this elusive poem.

It has been speculated that his name may have been inspired by the demon barber of the nineteenth-century penny dreadful, Sweeney Todd…

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