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T.S.Eliot:A Poet Par excellence

Updated on November 7, 2014


Thomas Stearns Eliot well-known as T.S.ELIOT winner of universal acclaim, awards and also a Nobel Prize of 1948 is a poet par excellence. He was a theorist, critic, dramatist, and poet who proved his theory of poetry by his own writings. His theories about objective correlative, tradition and individual talent prove that he is not only a modern symbolist poet but also a classical, romantic and postmodern poet.

T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) lived in America up till 1914 and then in England from 1914 until his death. Eliot saw the world wars and wider social changes with his naked eyes and was much influenced by them. His very popular poem is a pre-war poem which expresses the social, moral and religious changes of society. Four Quartets, combines a Christian sensibility with a deep uncertainty resulting from the war’s devastation of Europe. He weeps for the society and individual and laments the negative changes which have closed in from all sides and have gnawed at the very fabric of society. In the meanwhile he met Ezra Pound in 1914 who proved his main adviser and mentor. Here he was noticed and afterwards acclaimed as the greatest poet of his age. In 1921 he completed his famous poem The Waste Land.


Power of his poetry

The Critics have tried their best to diminish the acclaim of T.S.Eliot but his poetry does not allow them to do so. Some blame him of misogyny and others as anti Semitic .Some called him the friend of Jews and others say that he did not write of himself but quoted from Latin Greek ,Indian and religious resources.He is a poet par excellence, who aims to evoke the sluggish people of his times and revoke the present negative social trends. He wanted the people to return to the lofty ideals of morality. From the very beginning of his poetic career he has the same aim:

T. S. Eliot: A Poet par excellence

A True Modernist

Modernists search their models in ancient Greek literature, Chinese and Japanese poetry, the troubadours, Dante and the English Metaphysical poets: eliot’s poetry reveals the same thoroughly.

And the trees about me,

Let them be dry and leafless; let the rocks

Groan with continual surges; and behind me

Make all a desolation. Look, look, wenches!

Paint me a cavernous waste shore (Sweeney Erect)

We find allegorical references in Eliot’s poetry everywhere as in the following poems He refers to Oxford College;

Pipit sate upright in her chair

Some distance from where I was sitting;

Views of the Oxford Colleges

Lay on the table, with the knitting.

Daguerreotypes and silhouettes,

Her grandfather and great great aunts,

Supported on the mantelpiece

An Invitation to the Dance. (A Cooking Egg)

The Hollow Men expresses the spiritual emptiness and purposelessness of modern men.

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 rat’s feet over broken glass In our dry cellar

Fragmentation and alienation stream of consciousness method and subjective realities are here and there in his works. Love song of Prufrock is the best example of modern techniques and modernism in his poetry.

LET us go then, you and I, When the evening is spread out against the sky Like a patient etherized upon a table; Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets, The muttering retreats Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells: Streets that follow like a tedious argument Of insidious intent To lead you to an overwhelming question … Oh, do not ask, “What is it?” Let us go and make our visit. --from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

Symbolism and Imagism of Eliot

Eliot got into symbolism through a book by Arthur Symons called The Symbolist Movement in Literature. He was much influenced by the French Symbolists—Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Mallarmé, and Laforgue.


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