Jen's Reviews > Collected Poems, 1909-1962

Collected Poems, 1909-1962 by T.S. Eliot
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Mar 23, 2012

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bookshelves: poetry

I'm not going to pretend to have anything original to say about the poetry of T.S. Eliot. My personal reaction to his poetry as presented in this volume (which are poems he chose to represent his work for posterity) is that some of his work is worth close study but that none of it is very appealing.

Perhaps among the many things we can attribute to him is the advent of academic poetry that is only or primarily rewarding to people with a broad and deep education. One thing Eliot saw fit not to include in this collection were translations of foreign quotes. But there are notes on "The Wasteland," some consisting of quotes in a foreign language. He apparently feels no compunction about excluding lowly mono- or bi-linguals (his quotes may be German, Greek, Latin, French or Italian).

Of his poetry included here, I find "The Four Quartets" the most interesting, but I'm not sure I can say I like it. I like "The Book of Practical Cats" much better. It's hard to believe the same man produced these two books. And it's a shame he couldn't arrive at a middle ground between the two. The overwhelming impression I took away from Collected Poems is of a man who didn't like life. I do. I'd expunge him from my library if I were to swallow whole the general advice of surrounding oneself with only positive people. However, I do sense some literary playfulness in his work and would like to explore that more. And I think it would be interesting to write some poetry as rebuttal. Or maybe I should just alternate reading Eliot with reading Whitman or Pattiann Rogers.

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