Morning at the Window

T.S. Eliot

‘Morning at the Window’ by T. S. Eliot depicts the impressions of the lyrical voice as he looks outside his window and observes the streets.


T.S. Eliot

Nationality: American, English

T.S. Eliot is remembered today as a literary critic, poet, and editor.

His poems have had a lasting influence on a generation of writers.

‘Morning at the Window’ was written in 1914, some months after the outbreak of World War I. It was published in 1917 in T. S. Eliot’s first poetry collection, Prufrock and Other Observations. This book is widely known and recognized for featuring one of Eliot’s most famous poems, ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’‘Morning at the Window’ depicts the impressions of the lyrical voice as he/she looks outside his/her window and observes the streets.

The form of the poem, although unrhymed, follows the Spenserian stanza. That means that the poem has nine lines, ending with an Alexandrine. This type of form was used by Edmund Spenser to write The Faerie Queene, one of his most recognized works in which heroic deeds are narrated in an idyllic pastoral fairyland. Yet, Eliot uses this form to convey impressions of a modern city, most probably London.

T. S. Eliot was strongly influenced by French poets, especially by Charles Baudelaire and Jules Laforgue. Hence, in ‘Morning at the Window’, T. S. Eliot presents observations and scenes from modern urban life. These can be related to Baudelaire’s portrait of modern Paris. According to Eliot, in poetry, it is crucial to elevate everyday life and to accentuate the quasi-transcendent qualities of modern life. You can read the poem in full here.

Morning at the Window by T.S. Eliot

Morning at the Window Analysis

First Stanza

They are rattling breakfast plates in basement kitchens,


Sprouting despondently at area gates.

The first stanza sets the scene and the setting of the poem. The lyrical voice starts talking about a “They”. Thus, the lyrical voice appears to be an observer who looks at this scene with distant sight (“They are rattling breakfast plates in basement kitchens”). The images that the lyrical voice describes are object correlatives, meaning that the objects and situations depicted correspond to certain ideas and emotions in the lyrical voice’s and the reader’s mind. Then, the lyrical voice will state that he/she is in the street and aware of what goes on around him/her: “And along the trample edges of the street/ I am aware of the damp souls of housemaids/Sprouting despondently at area gates”. The lyrical voice shows images of poverty in modern London and describes them as everyday scenes, without describing individualities or moralizing his/her surroundings. This first stanza presents a very human, but distant picture; everyday life is narrated but not in individual depth. The lyrical voice chooses to narrate what he/she observes and focuses on his point of view.

Second Stanza

The brown waves of fog toss up to me


And vanishes along the level of the roofs.

The second stanza furthers on the characteristics and occupants of the modern city. The lyrical voice describes the air and its pollution (“The brown waves of fog toss up to me”), being a consequence of the industrial and modern city. Just like the air comes to him in a particular way, he/she sees people in the streets accordingly. Notice how they are described: “Twisted faces from the bottom of the street,/ And tear from a passer-by with muddy skirts”. People appear to be sad and dirty; nothing in this portrait of modern London seems to be cheerful or positive, as poverty reigns in the streets. Furthermore, the lyrical voice describes a possible attempt to revert the picture in the city, but it is useless (“An aimless smile that hovers in the air/And vanishes along with the level of the roofs”). This stanza, and the entire poem, present a distinctly modern view of a city, most probably London, by focusing on the small details of everyday life and elevating them to “quasi-transcendent qualities”.

About T. S. Eliot

Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in 1888 and died in 1965. He was a British poet, playwright, essayist, publisher, and literary critic. T. S. Eliot was born in the United States and spent the first eighteen years of his life in St. Louis. He attended Harvard University and earned both an undergraduate and a graduate degree before going to the Sorbonne. In 1914, he moved and settled in England. A year later, he married Vivienne Haigh-Wood, but he divorced her after some years and remarried in 1956 to Valerie Fletcher. T. S. Eliot became a British citizen in 1927.

When T. S. Eliot moved to London, he came under the influence of Ezra Pound, who convinced him of his literary talent and helped him publish several poems. Eliot’s poetry, Prufrock and Other Observations, collection was published in 1917 and established him as a leading poem of the avant-garde literary movement of that time. In 1922, he published ‘The Waste Land’. ‘The Waste Land is considered to be one of Eliot’s masterpieces and one of the most influential works of the twentieth century. T.S. Eliot’s reputation grew to immense proportions and, in the following years, he established himself as one of the dominant figures in English poetry and literary criticism.  In 1948 he received the Order of Merit and the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Get More with Poetry+

Upgrade to Poetry+ and get unlimited access to exclusive content, including:

Printable Poem Guides

Covering every poem on Poem Analysis (all 4,172 and counting).

Printable PDF Resources

Covering Poets, Rhyme Schemes, Movements, Meter, and more.

Ad-Free Experience

Enjoy poetry without adverts.

Talk with Poetry Experts

Comment about any poem and have experts answer.

Tooltip Definitions

Get tooltip definitions throughout Poem Analysis on 880 terms.

Premium Newsletter

Stay up to date with all things poetry.

Julieta Abella Poetry Expert
Julieta has a BA and a MA in Literature and joined the Poem Analysis team back in May 2017. She has a great passion for poetry and literature and works as a teacher and researcher at Universidad de Buenos Aires.

Join the Poetry Chatter and Comment

Exclusive to Poetry+ Members

Join Conversations

Share your thoughts and be part of engaging discussions.

Expert Replies

Get personalized insights from our Qualified Poetry Experts.

Connect with Poetry Lovers

Build connections with like-minded individuals.

Sign up to Poetry+
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Got a question about the poem? Ask an expert.x

Discover and learn about the greatest poetry, straight to your inbox

Start Your Perfect Poetry Journey

The Best-Kept Secrets of Poetry

Discover and learn about the greatest poetry ever straight to your inbox

Share to...