Study Guide

T.S. Eliot Quotes

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This is the way the world endsThis is the way the world endsThis is the way the world endsNot with a bang but a whimper.

T.S. Eliot, "The Hollow Men"

"The only wisdom we can hope to acquire is the wisdom of humility."

T.S. Eliot

"Our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves."

T.S. Eliot

In the land of lobelias and tennis flannelsThe rabbit shall burrow and the thorn revisitThe nettle shall flourish on the gravel court,And the wind shall say: "Here were decent godless people:Their only monument the asphalt roadAnd a thousand lost golf balls . . ."

T.S. Eliot, "The Rock"

"The historical sense compels a man to write not merely with his own generation in his bones, but with a feeling that the whole of the literature of Europe from Homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a simultaneous existence and composes a simultaneous order. This historical sense, which is a sense of the timeless as well as of the temporal and of the timeless and of the temporal together, is what makes a writer traditional. And it is at the same time what makes a writer most acutely conscious of his place in time, of his contemporaneity."No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists."

T.S. Eliot, "Tradition and the Individual Talent"

"There is probably no kinder man in London today than T.S. Eliot."He finds time to sit on a large number of committees for a variety of causes which benefit by his name, his experience and his shrewd judgment, and once he takes on such a job he does it thoroughly, putting to shame many fellow committee members with more time but a less exacting sense of responsibility. He is always unruffled, genial, kind and ready to enjoy a joke."

John Lehmann

"He has followed his belief that poetry should aim at a representation of the complexities of modern civilization in language and that such representation necessarily leads to difficult poetry. Despite this difficulty his influence on modern poetic diction has been immense."

Anders Osterling

"The prime minister of high culture was T.S. Eliot, who suffered from a lousy marriage and hated his job and so wrote 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,' a small, dark mopefest of a poem in which old Pru worries about whether to eat a peach or roll up his trousers. This poem pretty much killed off the pleasure of poetry for millions of people who got dragged through it in high school. The first line of 'Prufrock,' as you may recall, was 'S'io credesse che mia risposta fosse'—he opened with six lines of a language 99 percent of his readers do not understand! How better to identify yourself as a serious poet than to be incomprehensible?"

Garrison Keillor, Eliot-hater

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