T. S. Eliot


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T.S. Eliot (1888-1965), American-British poet and literary critic, author of Prufrock and Other Observations (1917) won numerous awards and honours in his lifetime, including the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948. His early and experimental poetical works depict a bleak and barren soullessness, often in spare yet finely crafted modern verse;

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

--from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

Another of his famous and oft-quoted works, The Waste Land (1922) deals with dark and haunting themes of individual consciousness and spiritual desolation against the decline of civilisation. Conrad's Heart of Darkness comes to mind as Eliot innovatively rejects traditional Romantic ideals through allusion and symbolism. From the first line "April is the cruellest month.." to the last "Shantih shantih shantih" we can intuit the dramatic scope and evolution of Eliot's own life in the Biblical, cultural, historical, and literary references that helped shape one of the 20th century's most profound figures in literature.

Thomas Stearns Eliot was born 26 September 1888 in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Charlotte Stearns and Henry Ware Eliot. He attended Harvard University before studying philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris, earning a B.A. and M.A. in English Literature. In 1914 he settled in England and worked as a schoolmaster and eventually met and became friends with many popular writers of the time including Ezra Pound. In 1915 he married Vivien Haigh Wood (they would separate in 1933). Around the time he was working with Lloyds Bank of London he also started editing the Egoist (1917–1919). Soon after he was publishing his own quarterly literary journal Criterion which would become one of the most acclaimed publications of the genre.

In 1925, busy working with the publishing house Faber and Faber he also continued to write many poems and essays. In 1927 he entered the Anglican church and became a British subject. He also wrote many plays including The Rock: A Pageant Play (1934); Murder in the Cathedral (1935); The Family Reunion (1939); The Cocktail Party (1950); The Confidential Clerk (1954); and The Elder Statesman (1959). In 1957 he married Valerie Fletcher. Collections of his plays include; Poems (1920); Poems 1909-1925 (1925); Ash Wednesday (1930); Four Quartets (1935–42); On Poetry and Poets (1957); Collected Poems 1909-1962 (1963).

Eliot's vast collection of critical works include; The Sacred Wood (1920); For Lancelot Andrewes (1928); Selected Essays, 1917–32 (1932); The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism (1933); After Strange Gods (1934); Elizabethan Essays (1934); Essays Ancient and Modern (1936); and Notes towards a Definition of Culture (1948).

Thomas Stearns Eliot died on 4 January 1965, his ashes interred at the Parish Church of Saint Michael in East Coker, Somerset, England from whence his ancestors came. There is a memorial to Eliot in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey, London, England, his epitaph reading; "The communication of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living"

"In my beginning is my end. ..In my end is my beginning."--from Four Quartets, "East Coker"

Biography written by C.D. Merriman for Jalic Inc. Copyright Jalic Inc. 2006. All Rights Reserved.

The above biography is copyrighted. Do not republish it without permission.

Recent Forum Posts on T. S. Eliot

On the Objective correlative.

I came across this thread while doing some research on the Objective Correlative. I don't quiet understand the link between this concept and Hamlet. A teacher of mine said that Shakespeare was brilliant at "juxtaposing the concrete and the abstract" like for instance when he uses " harrow" a term linked to the earth, to refer to an abstract notion " soul". Do you think, we can speak of an objective correlative here? There are no clear combination of elements, yet the combination of a concrete term "harrow" and an abstract one "soul" might be considered as a combination of different elements. Don"t you think? __________________ I figured it might as well start a new thread.


Eliot and Groucho, An Unlikely Pair

One guesses that Groucho Marx, while always witty, was more of an intellectual than we gave him credit for, while T. S. Eliot, a stickler for perfection in his poetry and a fastidious literary critic is evidently not as straitlaced and stiff as we might picture him to be. Both are men of letters! http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95830821 on exhibition at the Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/tri099.html and a funny anecdote http://www.todayinliterature.com/stories.asp?Event_Date=6/3/1964


Help finding quote from Eliot from correspondence with Stephen Spender

My boss needs to find a quote from TS Eliot Eliot was asked around 1931 what he sees as the future, given what is happening in the culture, and he responds something like "people killing one another in the street." Then, I saw that it was in response to a question from Stephen Spender. If anyone has the quote and the exact source, it would be greatly appreciated.


The Four Quartets, an analysis

I don't have the time to read it now, but as someone who loves The Four Quartets I will eventually. Thanks.


help with eliot please

hi. anyone interested in eliot's journey of the magi? anyone? i have a couple of questions. i need help. SOS.


the family reunion by Eliot

i'm looking for any critical works about the family reunion


Waste Paper

After T. S. Eliot won that poetry poll recently, I was motivated to go and reread much of it, and do a bit of reading around the subject. I was surprised to discover that another one of my favourite authors, H. P. Lovecraft, absolutely despised Eliot, and thought The Waste Land so dreadful and meaningless that he actually composed a rather cutting parody of it. So, I'm interested, what do you all think of Lovecraft's rather sour attempt to imitate Eliot? Waste Paper: A Poem of Profound Insignificance I Out of the reaches of illimitable night The blazing planet grew, and forc'd to life Unending cycles of progressive strife And strange mutations of undying light And boresome books, than hell's own self more trite And thoughts repeated and become a blight, And cheap rum-hounds with moonshine hootch made tight, And quite contrite to see the flight of fright so bright I used to ride my bicycle in the night With a dandy acetylene lantern that cost $3.00 In the evening, by the moonlight, you can hear those darkies singing Meet me tonight - in dreamland... BAH! I used to sit on the stairs of the house where I was born After we left it but before it was sold And play on a zobo with two other boys. We called ourselves the Blackstone Military Band Won't you come home, Bill Bailey, won't you come home? In the spring of the year, in the silver rain When petal by petal the blossoms fall And the mocking birds call And the whippoorwill sings, Marguerite. The first cinema show in our town opened in 1906 At the old Olympic, which was then call'd Park, And moving beams shot weirdly thro' the dark And spit tobacco seldom hit the mark. Have you read Dickens' American Notes? My great-great-grandfather was born in a white house Under green trees in the country And he used to believe in religion and the weather. II "Shantih, shantih, shantih"..."Shanty House" Was the name of a novel by I forget whom Published serially in the "All-Story Weekly" Before it was a weekly. Advt. Disillusion is wonderful, I've been told, And I take quinine to stop a cold But it makes my ears... always... Always ringing in my ears... It is the ghost of the Jew I murdered that Christmas day Because he played "Three O'Clock in the Morning" in the flat above me... Three O'Clock in the morning, I've danc'd the whole night through Dancing on the graves in the graveyard Where life is buried; life and beauty Life and art and love and duty Ah, there, sweet cutie. Stung! Out of the night that covers me Black as the pit from pole to pole I never quote things straight except by accident. Sophistication! Sophistication! You are the idol of our nation Each fellow has Fallen for jazz And we'll give the past a merry razz Thro' the ghoul-guarded gateways of slumber And fellow-guestship with the glutless worm. Next stop is 57th St. - 57th St. the next stop. Achilles' wrath, to Greece the direful spring, And the governor-general of Canada is Lord Byng Whose ancestor was shot or hung, I forget which, the good die young. Here's to your ripe old age, Copyright, 1847, by Joseph Miner, Entered according to act of Congress. III In the office of the librarian of Congress America was discovered in 1492 This way out. No, lady, you gotta change at Washington St. to the Everett train. Out in the rain on the elevated Crated, sated, all mismated. Twelve seats on this bench, How quaint. In a shady nook, beside a brook, two lovers stroll along. Express to Park Ave., Car Following. No, we had it cleaned with the sand blast. I know it ought to be torn down. Before the bar of a saloon there stood a reckless crew, When one said to another, "Jack, this message came for you." "It may be from a sweetheart, boys," said someone in the crowd, And here the words are missing... but Jack cried out aloud: "It's only a message from home, sweet home, From loved ones down on the farm Fond wife and mother, sister and brother..." Bootleggers all and you're another In the shade of the old apple tree 'Neath the old cherry tree sweet Marie The Conchologist's First Book By Edgar Allan Poe Stubbed his toe On a broken brick that didn't show Or a banana peel In the fifth reel By George Creel It is to laugh And quaff It makes you stout and hale And all my days I'll sing the praise Of Ivory Soap Have you a little T. S. Eliot in your house? IV The stag at eve had drunk his fill The thirsty hart look'd up the hill And craned his neck just as a feeler To advertise the Double-Dealer. William Congreve was a gentleman O art what sins are committed in thy name For tawdry fame and fleeting flame And everything, ain't dat a shame? Mah Creole Belle, ah lubs yo' well; Aroun' mah heart you hab cast a spell But I can't learn to spell pseudocracy Because there ain't no such word. And I says to Lizzie, if Joe was my feller I'd teach him to go to dances with that Rat, bat, cat, hat, flat, plat, fat Fry the fat, fat the fry You'll be a drug-store by and by. Get the hook! Above the lines of brooding hills Rose spires that reeked of nameless ills, And ghastly shone upon the sight In ev'ry flash of lurid light To be continued. No smoking. Smoking on four rear seats. Fare win return to 5 cents after August 1st Except outside the Cleveland city limits. In the ghoul-haunted Woodland of Weir Strangers pause to shed a tear; Henry Fielding wrote "Tom Jones" And cursed be he that moves my bones. I saw the Leonard-Tendler fight Farewell, farewell, O go to hell. Nobody home In the shantih.


TS Elliot, Another BBC poll

TS Elliot is Britains favourite poet. He just pipped Wilfred Owen in a BBC poll. I'm not sure of the breadth of the poll, there was a shortlist and it was internet only. I must say I knew nothing about it until the result was announced this morning on the radio. But TS Elliot! who would've thought? Are the great unwashed avidly reading The Wasteland, or did they vote for Old Possum?


poetry by T.S Elliot

a book was published on the unpublished works of T.S Elloit...containing poems which were not published before from his rough note book.I know only this much any information regarding this from the forum members will be helpful ,thank you,:)


Please help me (THE WASTE LAND) analysis

Hello Please I want you to help me and give me some information about (theme, figures of speech ,style, rhym and diction) of THE WASTE LAND by T.S.ELiot Please I need for these elements before my exam it will be after 4 days:bawling:


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