Thomas Stearns Eliot (26/09/1888 — 4/01/1965) was an essayist, publisher, playwright, literary and social critic and “one of the 20th century’s major poet. He was one of the creators of modern poetry, and is perhaps best remembered for a line that has passed, by now, into common usage ——- “This is the way the world ends —- not with a bang but a whimper.” He was a native of St. Louis, Missouri and spent most of his adult life in Britain. He emigrated to England in 1914 and was naturalised as a British subject in 1927, renouncing his American citizenship.
He attracted wide-spread attention for his poem — The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock (1915), which is seen as a masterpiece of the Modernist Movement. It was followed by some of the best-known poems in the English language, including The Waste Land (1922), The Hollow Man (1925), Ash Wednesday (1930) and Four Quartets (1945). He is also known for his seven plays, particularly “Murder In The Cathedral” —— a dramatization of the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, an ” The Cocktail Party” —— the story of a psychiatrist who helped people find peace of mind. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948, ‘for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry’.
For a poet of his stature, he published a relatively small number of poems. Typically, Eliot first published his poems individually in periodicals or in small books or pamphlets and then collected them in books. During an interview in 1959, Eliot said of his nationality and its role in his work, “I’d say that my poetry has obviously more in common with my distinguished contemporaries in America, than with anything written in my generation in England. That I’m sure of ……….. It wouldn’t be what it is, and I imagine it wouldn’t be so good ; putting it as modestly as I can, it wouldn’t be what it is if I’d been born in England. It’s a combination of things. But, in its sources, in its emotional springs, it comes from America.”
Eliot influenced, among many others, Virginia Woolf, Ezra Pound, Hart Crane, Allen Tate, Ted Hughes, Geoffrey Hill, Seamus Heaney, Russell Kirk and James Joyce.
Here are some of T. S Eliot’s Quotes :
(1) Only those who risk going too far, can possibly find out how far one can go.
(2) What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.
(3) Where is the LIFE we have lost in LIVING ? Where is the WISDOM we have lost in KNOWLEDGE ? Where is the KNOWLEDGE we have lost in INFORMATION ?
(4) I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.
(5) You are the music — WHILE THE MUSIC LASTS. (6) Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.
(7) I said to my soul ‘BE STILL’, and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing.
(8) I don’t believe one grows older. I think that what happens early on in life is that —– at a certain age one stands still and stagnates.
(9) Humankind cannot bear very much reality.
(10) We know too much and are convinced of too little. Our Literature is a substitute for Religion, and so is our religion.
(11) Immature poets IMITATE ; Mature poets STEAL.
(12) Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity.
(13) And they write innumerable books —– being too vain and distracted by silence : seeking every one after his own elevation and dodging his emptiness.
(14) There is no method —- but to be very intelligent.