Marina, the last of Eliot’s four Ariel poems, perhaps, is most personal in character and appeal. The title of the poem is the name of the daughter of Pericles, the Athenian hero, who lost her and she was subsequently restored to him long atter, in Shakespeare’s play Pericles, there is the touching scene (Act V, Sc. 1), presenting the restoration of Marina to her father who is overwhelmed with an ecstatic delight and surprise, and has a problematic feeling of joy to get back at long last his long lost dear daughter.
The restoration of Marina to Pericles is the context on which Eliot builds up the theme of his poem, Marina. Pericles’s experience of the regain of the lost daughter forms the theatrical background for expressing Eliot’s own religious experience. The restoration of Christian faith to the metropolitan inhabitants lost in doubts, commercialism is implied through the restoration of Marina to Pericles. This is the main contention that Eliot’s poem optimistically presents.
The theme of Marina bears out a new experience in Eliot’s poetic faith. From the sad scrutiny of the hollowness of modern life, Eliot is found to traverse in a different direction in Marina. He reveals here his Puritan distaste for the sensual pleasures, often sought by men. It also exposes his Christian conviction of salvation to come through the restitution of the Christian faith. From the mood of disgust and depression in The Hollow Men or The Waste Land, Eliot turns in Marina as in his other Aerial Poems, to the spiritual revelation, to the new religious experience which forms the central contention of the poem.
The anecdote of the loss of the daughter of Pericles and her recovery is found to have provided Eliot with the materials necessary to build up his deeply inspired religious theme in Marina. The poem has a profoundly religious undertone. It expresses Eliot’s turn to truly Christian morality out of worldly lust and vanity.
Though based on the simple story element of the loss of Marina and her restoration to her father, the poem has a symbolic undertone through which its religious contention is subtly suggested. Marina becomes the symbol of a new realization, a spiritual revelation, which is striven after in a world, dominated with sensuality and lustfulness. Her recovery and settlement stand for the return of the lost spiritual vision and the end of animal sensuality. From this angle, Marina well symbolizes man’s religious revival, despite all materialistic obsessions and physical tensions of his earthly existence.
What, however, comes out strongly here is the optimistic view which the poem gives out. Eliot here has no pessimism or cynicism of The Hollow Men or The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. His tone is here quite definite and positive. He gives out a note of hope for man’s spiritual life and salvation after all materialistic pleasures and pursuits. The closing imagery of the ship, long-neglected and forgotten, is an appropriate concept to bring out the collapse of animality at the restoration of the vision of life eternal.
The title of the poem Marina is used by Eliot in a symbolic sense. It signifies the restoration of the Christian faith, much disturbed and dismayed in the mechanization of life under urban civilization. Marina stands here for Christian faith and innocence lost in materialism and to be subsequently restored for man’s salvation. This is the spiritual necessity, unfailing to modern urbanity. Pericles is used here to symbolize the modern urban man who has the revelation of the spiritual bliss, attained through the reinstitution of the Christian faith and innocence in modern urban life.