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Collected Poems, 1909-1962

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There is no more authoritative collection of the poetry that T.S. Eliot himself wished to preserve than this volume, published two years before his death in 1965.

Poet, dramatist, critic, and editor, T. S. Eliot was one of the defining figures of twentieth-century poetry. This edition of Collected Poems 1909-1962 includes his verse from Prufrock and Other Observations (1917) to Four Quartets (1943), and includes such literary landmarks as 'The Waste Land' and 'Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats'.

240 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1963

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About the author

T.S. Eliot

931 books4,884 followers
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 Individual Talent. Eliot was born an American, moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 (at the age of 25), and became a British subject in 1927 at the age of 39.

See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T.S._Eliot

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 337 reviews
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews46 followers
May 30, 2018
Collected poems 1909 -1962, T.S. Eliot
This edition of Collected Poems 1909-1962 includes his verse from Prufrock and Other Observations (1917) to Four Quartets (1943), and includes such literary landmarks as The Waste Land and Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.
‎New York‬: ‎Harcourt Brace and Company‬, ‎1991, 221 Pages, Isbn 0151189781‬
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: بیست و هفتم ماه سپتامبر سال 1994 میلادی
ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Roy Lotz.
Author 1 book8,277 followers
January 14, 2022
Like many people, I first came across Eliot’s poetry in university, where it was used as an example of hyper-intellectual, highly difficult Literature that any educated person must at least pretend to appreciate. Yet as Eliot himself says in one of his essays of literary criticism, thinking a poem is ‘difficult’ puts one in a frame of mind inconducive to appreciating poetry. It becomes a challenge, an intellectual game, a homework assignment—not a work of art. This time around, therefore, I was determined to read these poems for pleasure first and foremost, and let whatever deeper meaning they possessed seep into me (or, more likely, go soaring over my head).

With some poems, this is easy enough. The first poem in this collection is among my favorites of all time: “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” I like virtually everything about it. The poem is unabashedly modernist—with its sharp pivots, its elisions of meaning, its many references—and the language is correspondingly modern. Yet Eliot retains enough of the trappings of traditional verse so that the poem is quite readable and, indeed, linguistically lovely in its odd way. On top of all that, the balding, aging Prufrock—with his unasked and unanswerable question, his vague sense of dissatisfaction and discontent—is a character I can (unfortunately) identify with. Every year I become more Prufrockian.

Skipping over the minor poems, many of them nice enough, we get to the next milestone “The Waste Land.” This is where Eliot lost me back in my college days, and I am afraid I did not fare much better this time around. Anyone can notice that it is a daring, innovative poem; and if you have a basic knowledge of history and literature, you can appreciate how such a poem captured a certain moment and feeling. But simply as a poem—a series of words one reads to savor and enjoy—I just find it too difficult a morsel to chew. There are some forms of confusion that can be aesthetically successful—a disquieting sense of the ground shifting beneath your feet—yet with this poem I find myself simply baffled, my eyes glazing over.

This is not true of the major poems of Eliot’s late phase: the Four Quartets. By this time Eliot was in his fifties, had converted to Christianity, and was a respected critic and playwright. Compared to his earlier works, the four poems have a kind of straightforward, prose-like tone. Instead of playing with words, here he is playing with ideas—the result often reading like versified metaphysics. This was more my speed, I suppose, and I found myself fascinated by these four poems. I even started to wonder whether this old poet might be incredibly profound after all:
There is, it seems to us,
At best, only a limited value
In the knowledge derived from experience.
The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies,
For the pattern is new in every moment
And every moment is a new and shocking
Valuation of all we have been.

All told, though it is easy to like and admire Eliot, it is difficult to love him. His poetry is dense, difficult, and cerebral. Fascinated by tradition, Eliot’s poems seem to emanate from impersonal, purely literary impulses—the only genuine emotion being a kind of conservative distaste for the modern world. The result is poetry that is brilliant but ultimately cold. Eliot’s poetry was written in his study and is meant to be read in yours. After reading too much of him, one longs for something wild—something with at least a touch of passion—poetry that can be read on a mountain as well as at your desk. Still, I am glad to have spent some time with Eliot. His poetry is a genuine education.
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,489 reviews2,373 followers
September 17, 2023

I'd previously only read Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, which, as good as it was, was solely about cats, so this collection was the first time that I truly immersed myself in a wider range of his poems, and what a collection it turned out to be!

And while I admired his earlier work in this book including 'Prufrock And Other Observations',
'The Waste Land', and 'The Hollow Men', I was particularly struck on the poems that made up the 'Four Quartets' - Burnt Norton, East Coker, The Dry Salvages, and Little Gidding, of which I ended up reading again, and then again. Most of the longer poems turned out to be the most impressive, but I added below one of my favourite shorter verses 'A Dedication to my Wife', which was came right at the end of this sublime collection.

To whom I owe the leaping delight
That quickens my senses in our wakingtime
And the rhythm that governs the repose of our sleepingtime,
The breathing in unison

Of lovers whose bodies smell of each other
Who think the same thoughts without need of speech
And babble the same speech without need of meaning.

No peevish winter wind shall chill
No sullen tropic sun shall wither
The roses in the rose-garden which is ours and ours only

But this dedication is for others to read:
These are private words addressed to you in public.
Profile Image for Prerna.
222 reviews1,426 followers
May 2, 2021
Sue me. I think T S Eliot was a petulant whiner. Go ahead, call me a philistine. Because the truth is, I hated this collection. This is a huge confession for me because I've obsessed over T S Eliot's writing all my life. During my undergrad days, I often read his poetry for comfort and joyously thought "dude gets it." I was convinced that no person, alive or dead, could ever articulate the essence of the gruelling modern human condition better than T S Eliot. But now I'm in my mid-twenties and I've seen too many things, especially in the past two years, and I'm so done with lamentations for lost 'meaning.'

The only reason I'm giving this book three stars is because I understand its literary merit and because I've enjoyed many of these poems individually at various phases of my life. But when I read all of them collectively, I could no longer deny that this was mostly an old, privileged man complaining about life, loss of spirituality (whatever that means), modernity and change.

I think what bothered me the most was the fact that Eliot seemed to bestow people with an agency that we don't really possess - he seems to be of the opinion that as a species, we are entirely capable of attaining spiritual enlightenment (again, whatever that means) but choose not to simply because we are lazy. Ugh.

Eliot is a master of metaphor and therefore, by extension, a master of language. His ingenuity shines through in his use of poetical forms, references to eclectic texts and of course in his use of words as mere tools to associate disparate ideas seamlessly. I only wish he wouldn't whine so much.
Profile Image for Szplug.
467 reviews1,257 followers
February 23, 2013
That's all the facts, when you come to brass tacks:
Birth, and copulation, and death.
I've been born and once is enough.
You don't remember, but I remember,
Once is enough.

Well here again that don't apply
But I've gotta use words when I talk to you

When you're alone like he was alone
You're either or neither
I tell you again it don't apply
Death or life or life or death
Death is life and life is death
I gotta use words when I talk to you
But if you understand or if you don't
That's nothing to me and nothing to you.
I always find it curious how much Eliot—quite conservative in character and anxious about what he regarded as a modern cultural evolutionary tendency, abetted by the dry rationalism of an increasingly technical society, towards pressing everything downwards unto the lowermost tier of the coarse, the vulgar, the profane, the commonplace—embraced a modernist grasp of language, with all of its form-fluid possibilities and permutations, in order to work his utterly unique manner of lyrical genius. And it is genius, at the very least by any aesthetic measure; combining words into lines and phrases that leap off of the page in all of their graceful poignancy and grab the reader by the soul, pierce the superficial layers of the memory to embed themselves within the selfsame chambers that house such perduring residents as the framed vista of supernally brilliant swathes of colour that suffused with flowering existence a memorable, cloud-garbed sunset; mayhap an instant when, flush with the harmonious pressure of musical gales, impaled and frozen upon a hook sonically plunged in an arc through the soul, your breath seized-up in a drawn interval balancing between the explosion and implosion of life; or perhaps the roseate, winsome, heart-punching smile of a youthful beauty that captured the entirety of your pubescent heart and cranked the inner thermostat to fluttering scorch; or even the first moment when, still as a statue in the midst of a world in constant motion, that sense of limpid, fulsome connexion with the cosmos in its entirety—with its subtle divine pressure to drive you down upon your knees—hummed through every fiber of your being with a tellurian energy ultimately derived from cosmogonic fuel of the most primordial lineage. And when you can, through the application of diligent reasoning and intuitive sleuthing, discern the implicit meaning behind the elegantly moving textual façade, you realize that Eliot truly belongs in that first-tier of twentieth century poets, masterfully forging personal commiserations by means of linguistic elements invariably held at somewhat of a remove—the better to penetrate the obfuscations of an age engaged in the shedding and shoring-up of beliefs—that it might seize and squeeze your spiritual nuts. An early favourite of mine, and this collection contains one marvel after another from the lengthy span of his versified creativity.
Profile Image for Geoff.
444 reviews1,233 followers
February 15, 2012
It's weird. I'm pretty sure I dislike reading T.S. Eliot's poetry. I was trying to find some words to explain this, and here's what I came up with. They remind me of the monuments in good old Washington DC. The first time you see them, there they are, all towering stone and wrought figures, some very human, some quite abstract representational polygons, full of whatever amount of symbolic subtext. Mighty. Intimidating. White. Symmetrical. Immovable. Seemingly there from the outset of time, meaning all of these things that they will forever embody. Important things. But if you live here, if you see them often enough, they just kind of start feeling... monumental, and monumental only. That is massive, imposing, built to last, with all that historical significance. But in many ways dull, never-changing, never showing new sides or varying interiors. The interiors are always the same with every visit. Lincoln's bearded visage over time starts to become a pretty tedious stone representation of Lincoln's bearded visage. After a little more time, the monuments become background and are incapable of being seen at all, and then when you do revisit them, to try to see them again, they evoke very little in terms of inspiration or feeling. Then what are they but artfully arranged stones? That's how I think of Eliot's poems, even the best ones, which in my opinion are The Hollow Men and The Four Quartets. I understand their formal perfection. I understand their magisterial harmony. But I can't come back to them and keep digging things out of them with pleasure. After awhile they aren't elusive. Once their secrets are disclosed they immediately enter stasis. I think Frank O'Hara is a better poet than T.S. Eliot. I expect this will enrage a few people. But O'Hara's work possesses elements that I find fundamentally lacking in Eliot's: humorous melancholy, strange language that manages to stay alive beyond multiple readings, amateurishness (which is important), willingness to sound ridiculous, or even superfluous at times, in the search of the oblique sentiment that is inexactly, perfectly human. There is nothing superfluous in Eliot, and that is a flaw. O'Hara produced thousands of poems, on lunch breaks, on the subway, on walks, on napkins at restaurants, on postcards, probably on toilet paper. When I think of Eliot writing I think of him in a three-piece suit seated at a mahogany desk with a candle burning! And I am fully aware that he lived in an era of abundant electrical lighting! This is a problem. Eliot is for the universities, and we needed him to exist, if for nothing else to write "The Wasteland" when the world needed "The Wasteland". But it's O'Hara's collected poems I keep by the bedside.
Profile Image for Shankar.
166 reviews4 followers
October 18, 2019
I am still in the honeymoon stage of my relationship with poetry. Literally trying to get a handle on its appreciation and being able to truly understand it.

Despite my "greenhorn"ness I think I will be reasonably correct to state this as a wonderful piece of work. Each poem in this repository has annotations which may need additional reading to grasp the import.

The poems The Hollow Men and the Lines for Curcuscaraway and Mirza Murad Ali Beg stood out to me as amongst the best given my lack of knowledge on many of references in other poems to historical and literary works. I will definitely re-read this.

Profile Image for Peycho Kanev.
Author 23 books287 followers
July 29, 2011
Critics of Eliot damn his work for its difficulties - and one cannot deny that its complicated diversions into technical and structural experimentation, mythical reference and multilingual commentary do initially intimidate. The beauty of Eliot's poetry is that it grows with you. Eliot doesn't always succeed, and many of his poems seem trite and pretentious, but when he succeeds he hits dead on with poetry perfect in form, balance, and sound. There is the man here, the poet as reflected in his own work, but there is also common human experience through looking at history ("The Waste Land") and meditating on Man's relationship with the Divine and the eternal (Ariel Poems, and most of his output after 1928). This collection is a wonderful summary of the poetic works of one of the major literary figures of the twentieth century. For a complete overview of Eliot you should read at least one of his plays (Murder In The Cathedral) and one of his volumes of critical essays.
Profile Image for Ṣafā.
72 reviews67 followers
June 2, 2017
This is the best poem collection I've ever read. After I was done reading it I was telling my mother, "It kills me. It kills me."

T.S. Eliot paints a picture so vivid you can't help but see it, it forms on its own, it penetrates your soul, it speaks to your mind, it fills your eyes. Eliot is what a poet ought to be, the complete embodiment. He reaches deep into you and pulls on your heart strings. He shows you what poetry can be, what it can do, how high it can reach.

I just loved every, really every, bit of this book and I know for sure I want to read it again. Actually, I was a little melancholic reaching the end and I felt like I wanted to read more. It is a great great piece of art and if you haven't read Eliot, you don't know what you're missing.
Profile Image for Circe.
66 reviews
June 13, 2023
Eliot’s fragmentary texts are beautiful; lush in a brilliant, burning way, with lines such as ‘Ash on an old man’s sleeve / Is all the ash the burnt roses leave’ proving his lyrical gift for making music with words. It’s as Eliot himself describes in part V of ‘Little Gidding’:
‘And every phrase
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
The common word exact without vulgarity,
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together).’

I purchased more of Eliot after finishing his delightful ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’ and finding it quite heartwarming. I was fortunate enough to discover this book not long after, and have thoroughly enjoyed each moment spent with it. I imagine it’ll be one of those poetry books I always rummage about for on ill, uninspiring days, or days when I’m just in need for a good ‘mellow’. My favourites are compacted with both new and old; I discovered little gems here and there, but works such as ‘The Hollow Men’ have always been a favourite of mine for years. Eliot treasures from this book include: ‘La Figlia Che Piange,’ the tragically unfinished ‘Sweeney Agonistes,’ ‘Little Gidding,’ ‘A Note on War Poetry,’ the short ‘Death by Water,’ and ‘To Walter de la Mare;’ a tribute to another of my favourite poets.
“The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms.”
Profile Image for James Murphy.
982 reviews168 followers
October 11, 2011
I've spent my life reading Eliot. When I was a high school junior I had a teacher who turned me on to poetry. She showed me the truth in Sandburg, but I soon discovered Eliot on my own. A story I still love to tell is how I spent the summer of my 17th year walking around with a library copy of Eliot's poems under my arm. A cousin asked me, "You're not reading that stuff, are you?" Well, I was and still am.

My copy of Collected Poems was the second hardcover book I ever bought, after Sandburg's Collected Poems. Eliot has followed the arc of a man's reading life. A sun moving through a sky. From the boy walking summer with Eliot tucked under his arm to the much older man still reading for the umpteenth time, that volume now full of notes and underlinings indicating an understanding if not quite yet the understanding. I'll keep coming back because I'll never be able to complete that understanding. Conrad Aiken famously said of The Waste Land that it succeeds because of its ambiguities. I think that's true. I think that each reader gets his own meaning from Eliot because he wrote the poetry everyone needs. Sooner of later you come to it. I know he gave me something I could carry with me my whole life. It's lasted that long.

As long as he can set me vibrating like a tuning fork I'll never become insensitive to his poetry. His work is comfort. It's the honey made in season that you have to taste and taste.
Profile Image for Leslie.
2,699 reviews203 followers
January 3, 2016
While I love some of the poems, others I didn't care for at all. So it is hard to rate the book as a whole... These poems were selected by Eliot himself just a few years before he died as the best of his work and it certainly contains all of his most famous work EXCEPT for the fact it doesn't even have one poem from "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats". With that in mind, I cannot whole-heartedly recommend it as a single sole volume of Eliot's poetry.

I am not much of a modernist, so it is perhaps not surprising that I found many of the so-called "minor poems" more enjoyable than the more serious (and to me often more obscure) verses. My favorites:

- The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
- Portrait of a Lady
- The Waste Land (reviewed separately)
- Ahe-Wednesday V (If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent)
- Five-finger Exercises (esp. I Lines to a Persian Cat)
- Landscapes (esp. V Cape Ann)
- Burnt Norton from Four Quartets
- To the Indians Who Died in Africa
14 reviews1 follower
January 6, 2008
Way too much here for a real review, but I had to write something about the volume that's been my tattered, marked-up, much-loved companion for twelve years now. I feel Eliot's ache for transcendence, his paralyzing frustration at the limitations of language to communicate the depths of our souls. And yet he did it better than anyone ever has. It's intellectual, yes, but it's from an intellectual perpetually pushing across into the visceral, never quite unifying it all fully, and knowing that the action itself, not the getting there, is the blessing.

Less floridly, in general the most famous stuff is the best. The Four Quartets are my favorite poem(s) of all time, and Ash-Wednesday is nearly as good. (For some reason The Waste Land has never resonated deeply with me except in parts, though.)
8 reviews8 followers
June 9, 2015
I appreciate T.S. Eliot as a influential and significant writer of classic literature. However, I find it difficult to understand the truest meaning of his words. Truthfully that is a fault of mine, but poetry has never been something I am drawn to. In saying that, I'm willing to look deeper into his poetry to better understand it.
Profile Image for Rodrigo de Meneses.
34 reviews9 followers
May 17, 2021
In my beginning is my end (Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water.) Ou: This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but with a whimper. Ou: I am no prophet – and here’s no great matter; / I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, / And I have seem the eternal Footman hold my cold, and snicker, / And in short, I was afraid. Ou: Let us take the air in a tobacco trance. Ou: I will show you fear in a handful of dust. Ou: Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season. Ou: Unreal city. Ou: Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night. Ou: Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song, / Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long. Ou: My people humble people who expect / Nothing. Ou: O you who turn the wheel and look to windward, / Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you. Ou: With a little patience. Ou: For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business. Ou: Because I do not hope do turn again.

Mas, também: Although I do not hope to turn again. E: Oh, do not ask, ‘What is it’ / Let us go and make our visit. [depois relembro outros, vou ter que me levantar, agora.]
Profile Image for John Hughes.
27 reviews10 followers
July 16, 2018
Eliot was certainly a profound thinker and poet. This father and Fabre edition is the perfect introduction to his poetry, opening with the more raw Eliot of Prufrock through his sculpting as an artist with The Hollow Men, The Wasteland, Ash Wednesday, Choruses from the Rock and Four Quartets.

Hollow Men remains the most solidified poetic experience that Eliot can give. Though I enjoyed Choruses from the Rock and Ash Wednesday immensely.

I read this quickly after Ezra Pound’s Personae, and, if push came to shove, I would side with Pound being the better poet. Eliot is still in modernity, half recoiling in horror, half looking upward for salvation. Pound has already left - his salvation arrived in Greece.
March 10, 2020
What more do you need to know, other than that this is a comprehensive chronological presentation of Eliot's work.

This has all of Eliot's most famous pieces from all stages of his career: Lovesong of J.Alfred Prufock, The Wasteland, The Hollow Men, Ash Wednesday and Four Quartets.

Alongside these titans of 20th century poetry are plenty of fantastic, deeper cuts that are well worth reading.

If you want a primer on Modernist poetry but don't feel like tackling the 116 cantos of Pound (I dont blame you) then this is perfect.

The only famous Eliot pieces you wont find are those in Old Possums Book of Practical Cats.
Profile Image for Bob Jacobs.
145 reviews11 followers
February 18, 2021
Wat een dichter. 'The Waste Land' en 'The Hollow Men' zijn tercht absolute klassiekers.

" Σίβυλλα τί θέλεις; respondebat illa: ἀποθανεῖν θέλω" (The Waste Land)

Ook al komt de quote oorspronkelijk van Petronius: ijzingwekkend, en dan is het gedicht eigenlijk nog niet begonnen.

"We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar "

(The Hollow men")

Ook hier slechts een klein fragment dat meteen de toon zet.

Profile Image for deadmetatron.
32 reviews19 followers
October 19, 2019
“Bir çift hırpani kıskaç olmalıydım ben
Suskun denizlerin dibinde seğirten.”

“Oysa bizim gibilere kuru kaburgalar arasında eşinmek düşer.
Metafiziğimizi sıcak tutmak uğruna.”
Profile Image for Amélie Amer.
16 reviews
April 16, 2023
I read the ones in the Norton and I absolutely adored them!
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock has to be my favourite.
‘To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.’
‘For I have known them all already, known them all- Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;’ This poem almost read like spoken word. He explored the postwar realm of emptinesses (especially with The Hollow Men) and his own spiritual journey. I loved loved loved it :)))
Profile Image for Steve.
380 reviews1 follower
June 21, 2022
Jon Kabat-Zinn called me to this volume, quoting from “Burnt Norton,” one of the “Four Quartets,” where Mr. Eliot dwells on living in the moment, rather than past or future, which all roll into one. “The Waste Land,” included here, is a work we naturally all know well, one that springs to mind every time I file my taxes, so no further commentary is needed, right? More broadly, though, Mr. Eliot considers themes that reverberate with birth, death, God, time, good, evil, memories, industrialization, and . . . bones, among others.
I think we are in rats’ alley
Where the dead men lost their bones.
Finishing these pages, I considered these works, several happily tinged with humor, the musings of a widely acclaimed genius who orbits beyond my gravitational reach. I’m a simple person, though; a friend in college once commented that classical music is best when I can tap my feet to the tune. Give me a straightforward poem with a healthy rhyming scheme, then!
Profile Image for Carmijn Gerritsen.
149 reviews3 followers
June 6, 2023
Eliot is a master of rhythmic poetry and this poetry collection serves as a reminder to the beauty of modernist writing. I really enjoyed seeing how his writing developed over the years, and how he explored bits of theatre as well. However, there were, as with any collection, some sections which I found less stimulating.
Profile Image for Taka.
687 reviews530 followers
February 4, 2010
Don't really know--

I have a mixed feeling about Eliot's poems. I found his Prufrock impenetrable, The Wasteland annoying, frustrating, and mostly incomprehensible, Ash Wednesday somewhat interesting in parts but too heavily religious. His The Hollow Men, however, resonated with me in all its haunting and chilling overtones. Ariel Poems, Minor Poems, Unfinished Poems were all meh (and can anyone explain to me what the hell's going on in his eerily Beckett-esque Sweeney's Agonistes?!?!?). Four Quartets was quite interesting in its own light, but I wasn't exactly sure what he was trying to say or describe. I did underline some particularly good lines from it, though:

"Footfalls echo in the memory / Down the passage which we did not take / Towards the door we never opened / Into the rose-garden. My words echo / Thus, in your mind" ("Burnt Norton," I)

"Words, after speech, reach / Into the silence..." ("Burnt Norton," V)

"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" ("Little Gidding," V)

Overall, I probably have to spend more time absorbing them. A lot of things do get lost on the first read and it is in the slower second read that we can hope to gain a deeper understanding. Poetry is different from fiction, and I'm still an amateur reader of the verse.

The "Occasional Verse" section had some cool, charming poems, and let me quote a section from it:

"The enduring is not a substitute for the transient. /Neither one for the other. But the abstract conception / Of private experience at its greatest intensity / Becoming universal, which we call 'poetry', / May be affirmed in verse" ("A Note on War Poetry").

Overall, Eliot's poems taught me how important it is to spend time with each poem and how difficult is to read poetry in general. It seems the reader is looking for poems that best describe their "private experience at its greatest intensity," which means the reader blatantly reads meaning into the text (who doesn't?). To the extent that I came away with a poem I liked (The Hollow Men), I'd say the reading was fruitful.
Profile Image for Domhnall.
439 reviews340 followers
May 26, 2019
This is a nice volume to handle and to read but does not include Old Possum and it is also worth finding Eliot's four plays elsewhere. It is a slim collection for such a major poet but, for practical reasons, this is convenient. Some poets have such immense collections my heart sinks.

Writing a review of T.S.Eliot's poetry would be ridiculous.

Liking him, or rating his poems as good or memorable, is probably neither here not there. Better for the reader to like them, I imagine, but not essential. There is no good reason to agree with him - or not entirely.

Reading Eliot - or to have read Eliot - is helpful also when reading any other poet. I am not sure why one would read others without (sooner or later) reading him.

From East Coker:

“So here I am, ...-
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate,
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate - but there is no competition -
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.”
Profile Image for Jay Green.
Author 4 books237 followers
January 25, 2021
Having studied The Wasteland and Prufrock for A level English 40 years ago, I returned to Eliot on a whim to remind myself of the experience. Ugh. I did not realise there was so much in his work that was worse. Dull, repetitive, pretentious, parochial, smug. There is an unmistakable tone here, which one still finds online among high-modernist pro-Tridentine Mass Catholic fascists, of arrogance and untouchability. I rarely chuck books in the bin but will make an exception in the case of this emperor.
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