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Eliot’s Poetry

T. S. Eliot




Thomas Stearns Eliot, or T.S. Eliot as he is better known, was born in 1888 in St. Louis. He was the son of a prominent industrialist who came from a well- connected Boston family. Eliot always felt the loss of his family’s New England roots and seemed to be somewhat ashamed of his father’s business success; throughout his life he continually sought to return to the epicenter of Anglo- Saxon culture, first by attending Harvard and then by emigrating to England, where he lived from 1914 until his death. Eliot began graduate study in philosophy at Harvard and completed his dissertation, although the outbreak of World War I prevented him from taking his examinations and receiving the degree. By that time, though, Eliot had already written “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” and the War, which kept him in England, led him to decide to pursue poetry full-time.

Eliot met Ezra Pound in 1914, as well, and it was Pound who was his main mentor and editor and who got his poems published and noticed. During a 1921 break from his job as a bank clerk (to recover from a mental breakdown), Eliot finished the work that was to secure him fame, The Waste Land. This poem, heavily edited by Pound and perhaps also by Eliot’s wife, Vivien, addressed the fragmentation and alienation characteristic of modern culture, making use of these fragments to create a new kind of poetry. It was also around this time that Eliot began to write criticism, partly in an effort to explain his own methods. In 1925, he went to work for the publishing house Faber & Faber. Despite the distraction of his wife’s increasingly serious bouts of mental illness, Eliot was from this time until his death the preeminent literary figure in the English-speaking world; indeed, he was so monumental that younger poets often went out of their way to avoid his looming shadow, painstakingly avoiding all similarities of style.

Eliot became interested in religion in the later 1920s and eventually converted to Anglicanism. His poetry from this point onward shows a greater religious bent, although it never becomes dogmatic the way his sometimes controversial cultural criticism does. Four Quartets, his last major poetic work, combines a Christian sensibility with a profound uncertainty resulting from the war’s devastation of Europe. Eliot died in 1965 in London.

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What's in a Name?

by CUBarbara, September 16, 2012

I think an important aspect out that was left out was the name "Lil" which can be short for two Lily or Lilith.

The Lily is a lovely white flower that, in the language of flowers, represents compassion and innocence. Oftentimes painters included lilies in images of the Virgin Mary to represent her innocence.

Lilith is a pagan spirit adopted into Jewish lore. She was the first wife of Adam who was cast from Eden when she wanted to be on top during sex. She became the first vampire and preyed on Adam's children borne by Eve.


6 out of 18 people found this helpful

The presence of a common theme or attitude to life in the separate sections of T.S. Eliot's poem 'Preludes'

by Shehanaz, May 29, 2013

“The winter evening settles down
With smell of steaks in passageways.
Six o’ clock.
The burnt –out ends of smoky days.”
A poem is a complete expressive of the mood of the poet, and Thomas Stearns Eliot is of no exception to it, when he is certainly throughout his poem is deeply in a mood of gloom and despair, as far as society is concerned. He is considered to be one of the most distinguished poets of the twentieth century who brought a very modern touch to his poetry with plenty of symbolism and knowledge of ... Read more


86 out of 95 people found this helpful


by EddieTemple06, September 30, 2013

Whilst the commentary is interesting and does provide some interpretations that are worth merit, the summary is just shocking.
How anyone can read a stream-of-consciousness poem such as this and actually interpret it as "Prufrock" travelling from location to location is beyond me; secondly, the narrator (Prufrock; Eliot) is not addressing any external party, be it the reader or someone else: he is addressing HIMSELF. This, surprisingly, is the nature of a s-o-c poem. This is known as IMAGERY, nothing more. "I wandered lonely as a cloud... Read more


168 out of 180 people found this helpful

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