In a message dated 2/17/03 12:50:44 AM !!!First Boot!!!, [log in to unmask] writes:
Hello everyone, I am new to this list. I am high school student and I need help analyzing Eliot's "Sweeney Among the Nightingales." Specifically, I need help with theme and symbolism (including allusions). I am really lost with this one. If anybody can help me with the meaning of this poem or help point out any symbolism or allusions, I would be most grateful. Thank you.
What you first need to understand is that Eliot did not have a very positive "outlook" on life in general. He did not think highly of people. All of the actions and intrigue taking place in the "modern" bar in which Sweeney is frequenting is compared to the lifestyle of the Greek legend, Agamemnon.
Agamemnon cried out only at the end, at his own death and the death of his slave/mistress, Cassandra, brought about by the intrigues of his wife, Clymenestra, who was not exactly a kind and caring lady herself. He did not cry out when he willingly sacrificed his youngest daughter in order to persuade the gods (and goddesses) to give him a good tide. It was nothing to him. He sailed on to Troy without a second thought for his dead daughter and once in Troy, helped ravage the place and then took the booty he wanted, the beautiful and prolific daughter of King Priam, who probably wasn't much older than the daughter he had sacrificed.
I believe what Eliot is saying is that Mr. Sweeney, a businessman perhaps, is just as uncivilized, insenseive and boorish as Agamemon, that nothing has changed in thousands of years.