In Response To:
The title "Preludes" itself is already very interesting, because it could be a poem about "prelude," but could also imply that there might be something following after the prelude. When I first saw this title, I sort of expected to see the theme part later as what we usually have in music. But my expectation remains suspended yet. As this poem suggests that there is a prelude every night, and it is only an empty repetition of our ordinary meaningless life. There is actually no place to lead forward, and we are only stepping on the same old route day by day.
The opening of "Preludes" is set in a hopeless lifeless winter evening. We see some broken pieces of the city scene from the first stanza, like newspaper and rubbish. This is not a pleasant night that people find rest or entertainment, but a lonely cold evening that we can see only "you" (from speaker's point's of view) and a horse. The setting of the whole poem, besides stanza two, is all squeezed in the evening, although the time line is actually within twenty-four hours. The darkness in night represents the speaker's mindscape that s/he is only capable to see things in the dark. Darkness seems to reveal more about the human nature for there may be too limited privacy in the daytime of a city. In the silent darkness, we see more of ourselves, and there are more reflections of the world appear to us. It is our soul and life that we truly care about in those moments, and our eyes become clear. Nevertheless, in the meditation, we conquer our own loneliness and the hollow of life.
This whole poem is rather pessimistic even in talking about morning. The day starts with "stale smell of beer" and "muddy feet" on the road, so we could see there are all the leftover of the previous night. There is no more lie about the refreshment of a brand new morning any more, because what we really have in hand is what we left in hand in fact. We just "masquerade" them and pretend to be cheerful for the new hopes. Moreover, the saddest part is that we live in our unchangeable routine, like walking in the same path to coffee stands or work in a mechanical office. Industrialization deprives of human being's instincts to feel and think, and the modern life seems more like chaos. Under daylight, we see "shades."
Not only modern life is shady here, but also the city life. The street is always blacken, or trampled or beaten by rain in the poem. On the other hand the sense of time emphasize on the uneasiness of people's busy nervous life. We could almost hear the clock's alarm "At four and five and six o'clock." It is like that people always need to rush from things to things. The image of newspaper and evening paper enforces this endless catching and chasing as well. We are used to read the news, however, we actually repeatedly make our every news double our history. Ironically, there seems none know what they really want, and the huge wheel of life keeps moving in the very same spot.
Modern life, in this poem, is very dark and meaningless. There is a lack of communication among people, and the uncertainty of life and future keeps people anxious. Furthermore, we also share the fear of losing humanity because the city could eat us up or easily hide us as invisible. The broken pieces of city image, of our thoughts and our existence, and of our souls altogether portray the state that we suffer or enjoy now. Yet, we do nothing to make a real progress (which is another unknown subject), but linger here and never care to count the infinite days in front.
At last, maybe the only thing we could do is to laugh at ourselves. To tease the nothingness in our life, clap hands for the silly nonsense play we act and then continue doing foolish things to make fun, to live and hope for. No matter if it carries meanings or not, we dig out our own treasure in life, and define it ourselves. Why should we have to bother nothingness? What's after "Preludes?" It's always a question that lies upon everybody to seek for his or her own answer. This is the privilege about modern life-nobody cares if you are gathering fuel in vacant lots or not. The futureless life is also a possibility, why not?