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date: 19 April 2024

T. S. Eliot 1888–1965
American-born British poet, critic, and dramatist 

  1. Because I do not hope to turn again
    Because I do not hope
    Because I do not hope to turn.
    Ash-Wednesday (1930) pt. 1
  2. Teach us to care and not to care
    Teach us to sit still.
    Ash-Wednesday (1930) pt. 1
  3. Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper-tree
    In the cool of the day.
    Ash-Wednesday (1930) pt. 2
  4. What is hell?
    Hell is oneself,
    Hell is alone, the other figures in it
    Merely projections.
    The Cocktail Party (1950) act 1, sc. 3; see Sartre
  5. Success is relative:
    It is what we can make of the mess we have made of things.
    The Family Reunion (1939) pt. 2, sc. 3
  6. How unpleasant to meet Mr Eliot!
    With his features of clerical cut,
    And his brow so grim
    And his mouth so prim
    And his conversation, so nicely
    Restricted to What Precisely
    And If and Perhaps and But.
    ‘Five-Finger Exercises’ (1936)
  7. Time present and time past
    Are both perhaps present in time future,
    And time future contained in time past.
    Four Quartets ‘Burnt Norton’ (1936) pt. 1
  8. Footfalls echo in the memory
    Down the passage which we did not take
    Towards the door we never opened
    Into the rose-garden.
    Four Quartets ‘Burnt Norton’ (1936) pt. 1
  9. Human kind
    Cannot bear very much reality.
    Four Quartets ‘Burnt Norton’ (1936) pt. 1.
  10. At the still point of the turning world.
    Four Quartets ‘Burnt Norton’ (1936) pt. 2
  11. Words strain,
    Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
    Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
    Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
    Will not stay still.
    Four Quartets ‘Burnt Norton’ (1936) pt. 5
  12. In my beginning is my end.
    Four Quartets ‘East Coker’ (1940) pt. 1; see Mary
  13. The intolerable wrestle
    With words and meanings.
    Four Quartets ‘East Coker’ (1940) pt. 2
  14. O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark,
    The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant.
    Four Quartets ‘East Coker’ (1940) pt. 3
  15. I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope.
    Four Quartets ‘East Coker’ (1940) pt. 3
  16. The wounded surgeon plies the steel
    That questions the distempered part;
    Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
    The sharp compassion of the healer's art
    Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.
    Four Quartets ‘East Coker’ (1940) pt. 4
  17. Each venture
    Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
    With shabby equipment always deteriorating
    In the general mess of imprecision of feeling.
    Four Quartets ‘East Coker’ (1940) pt. 5
  18. I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river
    Is a strong brown god—sullen, untamed and intractable.
    Four Quartets ‘The Dry Salvages’ (1941) pt. 1
  19. We had the experience but missed the meaning.
    Four Quartets ‘The Dry Salvages’ (1941)
  20. The communication
    Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
    Four Quartets ‘Little Gidding’ (1942) pt. 1
  21. Speech impelled us
    To purify the dialect of the tribe
    And urge the mind to aftersight and foresight.
    Four Quartets ‘Little Gidding’ (1942) pt. 2
  22. We shall not cease from exploration
    And the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And know the place for the first time.
    Four Quartets ‘Little Gidding’ (1942) pt. 5
  23. 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.
    Four Quartets ‘Little Gidding’ (1942) pt. 5
  24. A people without history
    Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
    Of timeless moments. So, while the light fails
    On a winter's afternoon, in a secluded chapel
    History is now and England.
    Four Quartets ‘Little Gidding’ (1942) pt. 5
  25. And all shall be well and
    All manner of thing shall be well
    When the tongues of flame are in-folded
    Into the crowned knot of fire
    And the fire and the rose are one.
    Four Quartets ‘Little Gidding’ (1942) pt. 5; see Julian
  26. Here I am, an old man in a dry month
    Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain.
    ‘Gerontion’ (1920)
  27. After such knowledge, what forgiveness?
    ‘Gerontion’ (1920)
  28. Tenants of the house,
    Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season.
    ‘Gerontion’ (1920)
  29. We are the hollow men
    We are the stuffed men
    Leaning together
    Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
    ‘The Hollow Men’ (1925)
  30. Here we go round the prickly pear
    Prickly pear prickly pear.
    Between the idea
    And the reality
    Between the motion
    And the act
    Falls the Shadow.
    ‘The Hollow Men’ (1925)
  31. This is the way the world ends
    Not with a bang but a whimper.
    ‘The Hollow Men’ (1925)
  32. A cold coming we had of it,
    Just the worst time of the year
    For a journey, and such a long journey:
    The ways deep and the weather sharp,
    The very dead of winter.
    ‘Journey of the Magi’ (1927); see Andrewes
  33. I had seen birth and death
    But had thought they were different.
    ‘Journey of the Magi’ (1927)
  34. An alien people clutching their gods.
    ‘Journey of the Magi’ (1927)
  35. Let us go then, you and I,
    When the evening is spread out against the sky
    Like a patient etherized upon a table.
    ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ (1917)
  36. In the room the women come and go
    Talking of Michelangelo.
    ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ (1917)
  37. The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes.
    ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ (1917)
  38. I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.
    ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ (1917)
  39. I should have been a pair of ragged claws
    Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
    ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ (1917)
  40. I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
    And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
    And in short, I was afraid.
    ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ (1917)
  41. No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
    Am an attendant lord, one that will do
    To swell a progress.
    ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ (1917)
  42. I grow old…I grow old…
    I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
    ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ (1917)
  43. Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
    I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
    I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
    I do not think that they will sing to me.
    ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ (1917); see Donne
  44. Yet we have gone on living,
    Living and partly living.
    Murder in the Cathedral (1935) pt. 1
  45. The last temptation is the greatest treason:
    To do the right deed for the wrong reason.
    Murder in the Cathedral (1935) pt. 1
  46. Clear the air! clean the sky! wash the wind!
    Murder in the Cathedral (1935) pt. 2
  47. The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
    It isn't just one of your holiday games;
    You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
    When I tell you, a cat must have three different names.
    Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (1939) ‘The Naming of Cats’
  48. Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
    There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
    He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare:
    At whatever time the deed took place—macavity wasn't there!
    Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (1939) ‘Macavity: the Mystery Cat’
  49. The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
    ‘Preludes’ (1917)
  50. Midnight shakes the memory
    As a madman shakes a dead geranium.
    ‘Rhapsody on a Windy Night’ (1917)
  51. Where is the Life we have lost in living?
    The Rock (1934) pt. 1
  52. Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
    Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
    The Rock (1934) pt. 1
  53. And the wind shall say: ‘Here were decent godless people:
    Their only monument the asphalt road
    And a thousand lost golf balls.’
    The Rock (1934) pt. 1
  54. Birth, and copulation, and death.
    That's all the facts when you come to brass tacks:
    Birth, and copulation, and death.
    I've been born, and once is enough.
    Sweeney Agonistes (1932) ‘Fragment of an Agon’
  55. Any man has to, needs to, wants to
    Once in a lifetime, do a girl in.
    Sweeney Agonistes (1932) ‘Fragment of an Agon’
  56. I gotta use words when I talk to you.
    Sweeney Agonistes (1932) ‘Fragment of an Agon’
  57. The nightingales are singing near
    The Convent of the Sacred Heart,
    And sang within the bloody wood
    When Agamemnon cried aloud
    And let their liquid siftings fall
    To stain the stiff dishonoured shroud.
    ‘Sweeney among the Nightingales’ (1919)
  58. April is the cruellest month, breeding
    Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
    Memory and desire, stirring
    Dull roots with spring rain.
    The Waste Land (1922) pt. 1
  59. I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.
    The Waste Land (1922) pt. 1
  60. I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
    The Waste Land (1922) pt. 1
  61. Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,
    Had a bad cold, nevertheless
    Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,
    With a wicked pack of cards.
    The Waste Land (1922) pt. 1
  62. A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
    I had not thought death had undone so many.
    The Waste Land (1922) pt. 1
  63. The Chair she sat in, like a burnished throne,
    Glowed on the marble.
    The Waste Land (1922) pt. 2; see Shakespeare
  64. And still she cried, and still the world pursues,
    ‘Jug Jug’ to dirty ears.
    The Waste Land (1922) pt. 2; see Lyly
  65. I think we are in rats' alley
    Where the dead men lost their bones.
    The Waste Land (1922) pt. 2
  66. o o o o that Shakespeherian Rag—
    It's so elegant
    So intelligent.
    The Waste Land (1922) pt. 2; see Buck and Ruby
  67. But at my back from time to time I hear
    The sound of horns and motors, which shall bring
    Sweeney to Mrs Porter in the spring.
    O the moon shone bright on Mrs Porter
    And on her daughter
    They wash their feet in soda water.
    The Waste Land (1922) pt. 3; see Marvell
  68. At the violet hour, when the eyes and back
    Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits
    Like a taxi throbbing waiting.
    The Waste Land (1922) pt. 3
  69. I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs.
    The Waste Land (1922) pt. 3
  70. One of the low on whom assurance sits
    As a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire.
    The Waste Land (1922) pt. 3
  71. When lovely woman stoops to folly and
    Paces about her room again, alone,
    She smoothes her hair with automatic hand,
    And puts a record on the gramophone.
    The Waste Land (1922) pt. 3; see Goldsmith
  72. Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
    Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell
    And the profit and loss.
    The Waste Land (1922) pt. 4
  73. Who is the third who walks always beside you?
    When I count, there are only you and I together
    But when I look ahead up the white road
    There is always another one walking beside you.
    The Waste Land (1922) pt. 5
  74. These fragments I have shored against my ruins.
    The Waste Land (1922) pt. 5
  75. Shantih, shantih, shantih.
    The Waste Land (1922) closing words; see Upanishads
  76. Webster was much possessed by death
    And saw the skull beneath the skin;
    And breastless creatures underground
    Leaned backward with a lipless grin.
    ‘Whispers of Immortality’ (1919)
  77. Culture may even be described simply as that which makes life worth living.
    Notes Towards a Definition of Culture (1948)
  78. The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an ‘objective correlative’.
    The Sacred Wood (1920) ‘Hamlet and his Problems’
  79. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.
    The Sacred Wood (1920) ‘Philip Massinger’
  80. Someone said: ‘The dead writers are remote from us because we know so much more than they did.’ Precisely, and they are that which we know.
    The Sacred Wood (1920) ‘Tradition and Individual Talent’
  81. Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality but an escape from personality.
    The Sacred Wood (1920) ‘Tradition and Individual Talent’
  82. In the seventeenth century a dissociation of sensibility set in, from which we have never recovered.
    Selected Essays (1932) ‘The Metaphysical Poets’ (1921)
  83. The great poet, in writing himself, writes his time.
    Selected Essays (1932) ‘Shakespeare and the Stoicism of Seneca’
  84. I suppose most editors are failed writers—but so are most writers.
    to Robert Giroux in conversation in 1948; Robert Giroux The Education of an Editor (1982)
  85. To me…[The Waste Land] was only the relief of a personal and wholly insignificant grouse against life; it is just a piece of rhythmical grumbling.
    The Waste Land (ed. Valerie Eliot, 1971) epigraph
  86. Those who say they give the public what it wants begin by underestimating public taste, and end by debauching it.
    in Pilkington Report (1962); anonymous observation later attributed to Eliot in Richard Hoggart A Sort of Clowning (1990)