Sense of Time in A. Akhmatova’s and T.S. Eliot’s Latter Poetry (Comparative Analysis of Poem Without a Hero and Four Quartets)

Anna Kurasova


Anna Akhmatova and Thomas Stearns Eliot are considered among the most influential representatives of Modernism, Eliot - in Anglo-American Literature, and Akhmatova – in Russian. Modernism emerged at the beginning of the 20th century, seeking to point out people's failure to maintain a culture based on spiritual values,  an idea that was central to the works of Eliot and Akhmatova. By analysing and contrasting their last major poems, Four Quartets and Poem Without a Hero, this paper aims to present Eliot’s and Akhmatova’s perception of time and modernity. Faced with the tragedy of World War II, Eliot and Akhmatova turned to reflecting on notions of time and history. Despite the differences in the poets’ experiences, mentality, and background, Four Quartets and Poem Without a Hero bear a resemblance to each other in many respects and express the common for Akhmatova and Eliot perception of time. The poets saw time as a complex continuum, in which every element has its place and persistently interacts with all the other elements; thus, the past is present in our lives today and shapes our destiny. Therefore, history is not simply a sequence of past events unrelated to the present, but rather an active creator of every moment of our present lives. Establishing the immutable connection between the past, the present, and the future, the poets remind their readers of the notions of sin, guilt and responsibility. The poets also shared an attitude towards modernity, which they saw as a time of lost people who deny their past and for that reason will have no future unless they change. Therefore, in the face of eternity, which is wiser than we are capable of seeing, all that remains for humanity is acceptance and humility.


Comparative Literature, Modernism, Anglo-American Literature, Russian Literature, Modernist Poetry, Philosophy of Time

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