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The Complete Poems and Plays, 1909-1950

4.33  ·  Rating Details ·  5,134 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
This omnibus collection includes all of the author’s early poetry as well as the Four Quartets, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, and the plays Murder in the Cathedral, The Family Reunion, and The Cocktail Party.
Hardcover, 392 pages
Published November 20th 1952 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (first published 1942)
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Jun 08, 2012 Rozzer rated it it was amazing
Eliot. Hmmmm. You see, Eliot (like Celine) is problematic. Each Jewish reader, when they sit down to read Eliot (or Celine) has to decide for him or herself whether the anti-semitism can be overlooked. Sometimes it can, sometimes it can't. Eliot had no use for Jews (though he did entertain Groucho Marx in his home). But after long consideration many years ago I decided that his poetry wasn't (for some reason which I couldn't pin down) infected by his own personal faults and diseases. (You wouldn ...more
Jun 05, 2016 metaphor rated it it was amazing
There is certainly no purpose in remaining in the dark
Except long enough to clear from the mind
The illusion of having ever been in the light.
Feb 28, 2009 Valerie rated it it was amazing
I just realized leafing through his poems that a lot of them have to do with aging gracelessly. I wish that had occurred to me in college. I might have written some better papers.
Sep 03, 2010 Julianne rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, drama
T. S. Eliot has been for me, for the last several years, the literary equivalent of a monster in the closet. I knew he was there and that some day I would have to face him, but seen through the darkness of my complete ignorance, he seemed a fearsome beast. So I put it off. Now, having finally read many of his most highly esteemed poems and plays, I regret not tackling him earlier—not because his stuff was so great, but because it just wasn’t worth that kind of awe.

Not that Eliot isn’t a great p
David Peak
Jan 19, 2013 David Peak rated it really liked it
There is some required reading in here, namely "Prufrock," "The Waste Land," "The Hollow Men," and, even though I largely despise Eliot's writing after his conversion to Anglicanism, "Four Quartets"--for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize.

As much as I hate to say things like this, the minor poems have their moments but are largely forgettable in the shadow of the major works.

With regards to the plays, I loved "The Family Reunion," a brutally scathing and honest exploration of melancholia, fa
Stuart Marlatt
Apr 03, 2008 Stuart Marlatt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry

Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh;
The worlds revolve like ancient women
Gathering fuel in vacant lots.
- from "Preludes, IV"

T.S. Eliot may be safely referred to as the most important stylistic influence on English poetry in the last 100 years (perhaps in the last 200, in any language)! His evocative use of imagery and precise control of syntax are absolutely breathtaking, his mastery of tension and juxtaposition may eventually be seen as the archetypal expression of these elemen
Greg Fanoe
Jul 16, 2014 Greg Fanoe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: drama, poetry, nobel-prize
Nobel Prize Project
Year: 1948
Winner: T.S. Eliot

Review: This contains all the Eliot that's worth reading, except maybe his literary criticism (which I've never read, so it's unfair for me to say it isn't worth reading). Pretty much an essential part of any library. As far as the plays go, I really liked Murder in the Cathedral, the other two are disposable.

Verdict: The knock on Eliot is that his body of classic poetry is really small. His reputation really is built on less than 10 poems, which is
J. Alfred
May 22, 2015 J. Alfred rated it it was amazing
Eliot, like all the greats, is one that you can read again and again and always find some new intricacy. If you love the poems, read the plays-- and this volume is a great way to go about it, refreshing your memory of the poetry before venturing to his attempts at drama, which are littered with references to his earlier lyric work. Both The Family Reunion and The Cocktail Party are impressive.
If you don't know the poems, Prufrock and The Waste Land are indispensable, but almost all of the other
Mansor Pooyan
Jun 16, 2008 Mansor Pooyan rated it really liked it
As the most important stylistic English poet, T.S. Eliot uses of imagery and his control of syntax are absolutely breathtaking. His archetypal poetry is not merely stylistic, It is also an instructive and fascinating journey as to follow his spiritual development from The Wasteland, to the depths of his landmark Four Quartets.
Four Quartets stands as a testament to the power of poetry amid the chaos of the time. Let the words speak for themselves: "Love/Love is the unfamiliar Name/Behind the han
Nov 30, 2015 Jim rated it it was amazing
I won't even pretend to review Eliot.

The Four Quartets - which is what our group was reading together - are poems that focus on time and one's place within it. Timelessness and death and god and love are integral to these four poems of Eliot's last years. They feel as if conclusive to his years and writing; a 'This Is What I Believe' statement. They are pretty magnificent.

We read them the context of Buddhist theology, including a commentary from a contemporary Buddhist writer exploring the para
Mar 03, 2011 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
Here's another one of those books that will always be in the process of being read and never finished. I find that a single piece of Eliot's work can be read a dozen times or more in a single sitting. His narrative construction is lucid, his imagery and descriptive language is in a revere of its own, ethereal. Each reading seems to constitute its own identity, the moments of humour, disgust, bleakness and joy that last all to briefly, never remain so during a second reading, and so your eyes gaz ...more
Jon Corelis
Jan 22, 2013 Jon Corelis rated it it was amazing
The T. S. Eliot to get

***** A Five Star Poetry Book: Recommended for All Readers

Every library with any poetry should include T. S. Eliot, and this Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 1971 is the one to get. Though it lacks a few later minor poems included in T. S. Eliot: Collected Poems, 1909-1962 (The Centenary Edition), it has the advantage of including his three best plays, and is beautifully printed and produced in a rather austere format which well suits the verse.
Aug 16, 2008 Robert rated it really liked it
Feel bad admitting this, but I’ve only read some main parts of his collected works. The Waste Land, Hollow Men, Ash Wednesday, and Four Quartets, Prufrock … a few other. Still, these are some all time moving works to know.
Oct 25, 2007 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, classics
I never understood Eliot on my first reading, but was sucked in by the music of his language. His words are like jazz. As I continued to read, I started to understand what he was saying and not saying. This book taught me how to write poetry, and it holds an honored place on my nightstand.
Sep 23, 2016 Jenny rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Eliot’s poetry is wonderful and strange and confusing and complicated and allusive and beautiful and dangerous. I definitely recommend reading some of his work - be prepared to not understand everything and to be okay with that; not understanding can be a great experience. That being said, if you’re interested in all of the allusions Eliot makes, check out A Guide to the Selected Poems of T.S. Eliot, which I found to be an interesting counterpart to Eliot’s poems. (Also, a good guide for the Fou ...more
Terence Manleigh
T. S. Eliot is the Archbishop of literary modernism. Weird, lugubrious, pallid with green face-powder, completely affected, this native Missourian turned tortured Bloomsbury aesthete turned prim Anglican (the reinventions of self call to mind Bob Dylan in reverse, the personality shrinking rather than expanding) became the voice calling in the wilderness of post-World War I Europe. “The Waste Land” was the “Howl”, the “White Album” of youthful intellectuals in the 1920s. Every young writer paid ...more
Dec 11, 2011 Rhonda rated it it was amazing
This collection is a monument to 20th century thought. Eliot is an image maker and a wordsmith of the highest caliber and a monumental thinker. His early work, centering so much as it did on the underbelly of human existence (e.g., Prufrock and The Waste Land) demonstrates not only a bleak existence of mankind but the yearning desire to motivate itself towards hostile and ugly things, all the while attempting to perform feats of magic which often go awry.

One can spend a great deal of time on th
Ben Goodridge
Apr 03, 2015 Ben Goodridge rated it liked it
I dug this book out of mothballs when I was searching for a TS Eliot poem that was more striking than "The Hollow Men," which I couldn't get out of my mind for a while. I read it a little at a time, over several months.

Being an anthology, the work is a bit inconsistent. I don't know from a "good" poem or a "bad" poem - to me, a poem is good if it creates an image that sticks with you, and haunts you, and you remember later. A poem is bad if it just kind of goes in one ear and out the other. "The
Brian Denton
Nov 19, 2015 Brian Denton rated it it was amazing
I love T.S. Eliot. His poetry is both haunted and haunting. It’s haunted by the pessimism and anxiety of his era, most brilliantly articulated in his early work of Prufrock, Preludes, The Hollow Men and, most notoriously, The Waste Land. It’s also haunted by the profound mysteries of his adopted Christian faith found in Ash Wednesday, Choruses from “The Rock,” and the magisterial Four Quartets. Finally, it’s haunting in how it sticks with you after you’ve read it. This is an impossible emotional ...more
Aug 30, 2009 Steve rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
T.S. Eliot was an amazing poet. Then he kept writing. His poetry became worse and his plays were awful. If he would have stopped at The Waste Land, it would have all be fine. He had some fabulous poems before then -- "Gerontion" and "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," to name a couple. I also managed to get different things on different readings of Prufrock, depending on whether I stop to translate and think about the source of the Italian at the beginning or not. More than once have I identi ...more
May 16, 2010 John rated it really liked it
Rated: B

The New Lifetime Reading Plan: Number 116

I love T. S. Elliot. You have to understand British culture and London life of the 1900's to appreciate some of his works. But his words, his twist of a phrase are memorable.

I re-read this book almost 24 years after my first reading. Old the old favorites still rang true but I enjoy his plays more this time. His classic poems (Prufrock, The Wasteland, The Hollow Men) have great lines and imagery. I was drawn to "Choruses from 'The Rock'" now more
Martin Bihl
May 23, 2009 Martin Bihl rated it liked it
I was always a fan of eliot, but this book may have broken my spirit. the lovesong of j alfred prufrock is genius, but the rest is basically the same poem over and over again - life is meaningless; we can never connect with each other; women frighten me; life frightens me; death cannot come soon enough; the earth is a desolate thing; repeat.

i still love prufrock, and i am willing to concede that perhaps the old boy is writing over my head. but i couldn't help feeling, as i waded through the four
Dec 12, 2014 Heather rated it really liked it
T. S. Eliot is one of the rare twentieth-century writers whose work I relish. His poems are not always enjoyable, but they are always arresting. Reading the whole of his poetry in chronological order reveals much about his personal and religious transformations. His ability to write poetry whose simple words cloak profound paradox reminds me in some ways of the writings of Saint John the Evangelist. No matter how many times you come back, there is always more. Eliot is a poet for a lifetime.
Jack Hrkach
Aug 14, 2015 Jack Hrkach rated it really liked it
Another that I read several decades ago! I owned it actually - fell madly in love with Eliot, many of his poems (first was Ash Wednesday, my favorite was and still is Prufrock) and his plays (particularly Murder in the Cathedral), when poring over this book as a very young man. I don't know what the current assessment academe offers of Eliot, and I don't much care - for me one of the very greatest modern poets.
Apr 18, 2014 D.N. rated it it was amazing
Superlative. It's easy to forget today that Eliot's poetry was innovative in both technique and subject matter when originally written. I can do no better than to quote "Tradition and the Individual Talent", an essay from the poet himself: "What happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art that preceded it." Such is the relationship of Eliot's poetry to the canon.
Dec 03, 2007 Caitlin rated it it was amazing
I'm not ashamed to say that I like this poet. If it weren't for "Love Song..." I wouldn't have given poetry another. To bad certain teachers have ruined the experience of reading a great poet. I recommend reading Eliot without ever reading a word of criticism about him. Avoid the biographies, its all in the poetry, all of it.
Jennifer W
Feb 05, 2011 Jennifer W rated it it was ok
Shelves: byt-1900-1940
I may be too literal of a reader for something like Eliot. A few bits here and there stuck out at me, but for the most part I didn't get it. I saw glimpses that told me he was probably a great writer, but he isn't one for me.
Sep 29, 2007 Joel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, poetry
I haven't read all of it, but Eliot is one of my favorite poets. I especially enjoy his poems, "The Magi" and "Gerontion", and the play, "Murder in the Cathedral." I first discovered Eliot in an English class in high school.
Mar 06, 2009 Laura rated it it was amazing
I don't pretend to understand half of what Eliot is saying. But what I do understand -- e.g., The Hollow Men, Four Quartets, The Love Song of J. Alfred Proofrock -- I understand completely. They are among the finest poems I've ever had the pleasure of reading.
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  • Personæ: The Shorter Poems
  • Collected Poems, Prose, and Plays
  • The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose
  • The Complete Poems
  • The Palm at the End of the Mind: Selected Poems and a Play
  • Paterson
  • The Complete Poems and Major Prose
  • Selected Poems and Four Plays
  • New and Collected Poems: 1931-2001
  • Collected Poems
  • Krapp's Last Tape & Embers
  • Collected Poems, 1956-1987
  • Poems and Prose
  • Complete Poems and Selected Letters
  • The Collected Poems
  • The Complete Poems
  • Selected Poems
  • Complete Poems of Stephen Crane
Thomas Stearns Eliot was a poet, dramatist and literary critic. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948 "for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry." He wrote the poems The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land, The Hollow Men, Ash Wednesday, and Four Quartets; the plays Murder in the Cathedral and The Cocktail Party; and the essay Tradition and the Individ ...more
More about T.S. Eliot...

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“Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?”
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