T.S. Eliot--American/British




                                                                                        T.S. Eliot by Wyndam Lewis


T.S. Eliot


Thomas Stearns Eliot was a poet, literary critic and a dramatist. Eliot born in St. Louis, educated at Harvard, moved to Europe to complete his graduate work at the Sorbonne and Oxford. In 1927, at the age of 25 he became a British citizen and shortly after a member of the Anglican Church. He was a literary editor for Faber and Faber Publishing House and then later its director. Eliot won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948. His most famous works include his poems “The Waste Land,” “The Hollow Men,” “Four Quartets,” and “The Love Songs of J. Alfred Prufock.” His most popular plays are Murder in the Cathedral and The Cocktail Party. Eliot’s work is not without controversy though he is regarded as one of the most important innovators of twentieth-century poetry.


A Note on War Poetry

Not the expression of collective emotion
Imperfectly reflected in the daily papers.
Where is the point at which the merely individual
Explosion breaks
In the path of an action merely typical
To create the universal, originate a symbol
Out of the impact? This is a meeting
On which we attend
Of forces beyond control by experiment—
Of Nature and the Spirit. Mostly the individual
Experience is too large, or too small. Our emotions
Are only ‘incidents’
In the effort to keep day and night together.
It seems just possible that a poem might happen
To a very young man: but a poem is not—
That is a life.
War is not a life: it is a situation;
One which may neither be ignored nor accepted,
A problem to be met with ambush and stratagem,
Enveloped or scattered.
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.