Matthiessen goes on to point out a series of rising and falling expectations that Eliot presents the reader such as the anticipation of Tiresias and the typist of a special "expected guest" that turns out to be "the young man carbuncular." Eliot has done the same with his description of the typist's flat.
... [Eliot's] usual way of surprising the reader into a new perception of reality is by means of the nuance rather than the conceit, by the rapid associations of his shifting thought, and by the accompanying deft and subtle exactness of his verbal contrasts:
- 215) At the violet hour, when the eyes and back
- 216) Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits
- 217) Like a taxi throbbing waiting,
- 218) I Tiresias, though blind, throbbing between two lives,
- 219) Old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see
- 220) At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives
- 221) Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea,
- 222) The typist home at teatime, clears her breakfast, lights
- 223) Her stove, and lays out food in tins.
- 224) Out of the window perilously spread
- 225) Her drying combinations touched by the sun's last rays,
- 226) On the divan are piled (at night her bed)
- 227) Stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays.
- 228) I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs
- 229) Perceived the scene, and foretold the rest--
- 230) I too awaited the expected guest.
- 231) He, the young man carbuncular, arrives,
- 232) A small house agent's clerk, with one bold stare,
- 233) One of the low on whom assurance sits
- 234) As a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire.
The limpid description of the evening, with its romantic associations heightened by the echo of Stevenson's 'Requiem' as well as by the emulation of some lines by of Sappho (of which Eliot tells us in a note), is suddenly startled into a new aspect by the introduction of the typist. It is worth observing that this effect of surprise is made partly by the equally sudden shift in syntax, whereby 'the typist,' at first the object of 'brings,' becomes in turn the subject of 'clears.' Such breaking through the rules of conventional grammar, as the irregular lines break through conventional versification, corresponds to Eliot's remark that 'the structure of the sentences [of the metaphysical poets] is sometimes far from simple, but this is not a vice; it is a fidelity to thought and feeling.'
Throughtout the passage there is a similar weaving back and forth from phrases embodying traditional loveliness to phrases rising from sharp, realistic perceptions of the actual city. ...