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The Complete Poems and Plays, 1909-1950
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The Complete Poems and Plays, 1909-1950

4.33 of 5 stars 4.33  ·  rating details  ·  4,140 ratings  ·  64 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, 400 pages
Published November 20th 1952 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 1942)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Rozzer
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
Julianne
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
...more
Jon Corelis
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.
Jennifer
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.
Valerie
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.
Greg Fanoe
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
...more
Rhonda
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
...more
Anthony
I guess I didn't quite get it. Eliot's poetry is so highly revered that perhaps I began with the wrong state of mind. From what I gather, most of his poetry is about the ultimate futility of anything you do in life. pretty depressing, pretty deep, but... that's it. You're going to die and then that'll be it. i felt like he was just repeating this same concept over and over, and never really offered up any revelations about it, just the one observation. i've also heard that he's so great just bec ...more
Steve
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
David Peak
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
...more
Stuart Marlatt

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
...more
Mansor Pooyan
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
...more
Julia Boechat Machado
Last part of the Hollow Men:


Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom
...more
John
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
...more
Kelly
One of my favorite poets! I read this in high school, and it shaped my writing. Complex, thick with allusions and "found" poetry.
Martin
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
...more
Ashley Adams
Fabulous, wonderful collection to read alongside some criticism. I sleep with this by my bedside.
Sandra
If you like the Old Possum, you must buy this and keep it on your bedside.
Jonathan
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
Donna
I traveled Europe with this book on me. It was perfect.
Heather
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.
D.N.
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.
Caitlin
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.
Laura Cowan
I find T.S. Eliot's plays hard to get through, since I don't find his style very interesting when applied to dialogue, but how can you go wrong having his complete works on the shelf? All his best poems, and the Practical Book of Cats. The only thing weirder than T.S. Eliot's work is T.S. Eliot. Loved it!
Erik Simon
Is it a sign of age? When I was younger, I so admired "Prufrock" and "Waste Land," but now that I'm older (not old, just older; I can still play three hours of singles tennis) I find myself coming back more and more to the mystical music of "The Four Quartets" and the perfect flow of "Ash Wendesday."
treva
A huge influence on modern literature; i think poetry especially would not exist as it currently does had The Waste Land never been published. His plays are also fantastically funny and touching; The Family Reunion is fraught with emotional tension in a vein similar to Eugene O'Neill.
Laura
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.
Rutger
I know it's a minority opinion, but T.S. Eliot's Christian poetry is superior to his earlier work and thus to all other poetry written in the 20th century. 'The wounded surgeon plies the steel / That questions the distempered part.'
Trice
Mar 26, 2011 Trice rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Trice by: my mother the English teacher
Shelves: poetry
My mother likes to tell me that my first outing as a newborn babe was to a discussion of T.S. Eliot. Perhaps this is why I've always liked his work. ;) I've only read bits though, so need to work my way all the way through.
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T.S. Eliot International Summer School, 10-17 July 2010, London 1 4 May 26, 2010 04:38AM  
  • Personæ: The Shorter Poems
  • The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose
  • Collected Poems, Prose, and Plays
  • Collected Poems
  • The Palm at the End of the Mind: Selected Poems and a Play
  • The Complete Poems
  • Paterson
  • Complete Poems of D. H. Lawrence (Wordsworth Poetry Library)
  • The Complete Poems and Major Prose
  • Selected Poems and Four Plays
  • Complete Poems and Selected Letters
  • The Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins
  • The Complete Pelican Shakespeare
  • Complete Works of Oscar Wilde
  • The Complete Poems
  • Complete Poems of Stephen Crane
  • The Major Works
  • The Complete Poems
18540
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...
The Waste Land and Other Poems The Waste Land Collected Poems, 1909-1962 The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and Other Poems Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

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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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