Thomas Stearns Eliot


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thomas stearns eliot T.S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot changed the face of poetry. He has been regarded as the most celebrated poet of his era. This Nobel Prize winning poet is credited with viewing the world as it appears, without making any optimistic judgements. Despite the ire of Mr. Eliot, it would be safe to regard him as a prophet of doom. His works reflected his frustration with mankind, and the seeming need to be released from this cold world. It was once said, How unpleasant to meet Mr. Eliot. (Time 1) His rather cynical view of mans accomplishments leads one to regard him as a pessimist who prophesies nothing but doom for mankind.
Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1888. As a youngster, Thomas received the best education from schools in the United States and Europe. He went to Harvard at age 18, then on to Germany, the Sorbonne in France, and Oxford in England to study literature. In 1914 he met the entrepreneur, Ezra Pound. Pound was a publisher who helped various poets publish their works. While in England, Eliot met Vivienne Haigh-Wood whom he married in 1915. The marriage was not a success, (Abrams 2361). Contending with his wifes neurotic behavior and ailing health, Eliot became stressed out and checked himself into a Swiss sanatorium in 1921. Two months later, Eliot checked out of the sanatorium and gave Ezra Pound a manuscript entitled The Waste Land. This work alone is considered his most famous poem. It is a poetic exploration of souls struggling for redemption, (Kimball 23). Eliots other works, such as Murder in the Cathedral, and Old Possums Book of Cats have enjoyed success as well, with Cats being made into a musical play.
Originally over one thousand lines long, the abridged version of The Waste Land is very pessimistic in tone. The original version was scaled down by Ezra Pound who thought it too long to publish. Some critics have said it is a jumble of thoughts and languages, with the end being a collage of various languages. Others have credited it with being the most influential poem of the 20th century. However, most critics agree Eliot can be recognized as the leader in the modernist movement in literature although he has been reclassified over and over as a racist, misogynist, and a fascist (kirjasto.sci.fi 1). The Waste Land was a deeply unoptimistic, un-Christian and therefore un-American poem, prefaced by the Cumean Sibyl, I want to die, (Time 100 2). His following poems, The Hollow Men and Journey of the Magi, published in 1925 and 1927 respectively, both have the same tone. They all cry for the want of death, for the escape from an acheronian life. His poems generally deal with religious beliefs (or the absence of), sexuality, emotional impoverishment, boredom and spiritual emptiness.
The Waste Land is a poem about spiritual dryness, about the kind of existence in which no regenerating belief gives significance and value to peoples daily activities, sex brings no fruitfulness, and death heralds no resurrection, (Abrams 2368). It annoyed Eliot that The Waste Land was interpreted as a prophetic statement: he referred to it (somewhat disingenuously) as just a piece of rhythmical grumbling, (Time 100 2). Other works of his, however, show similar themes (such as The Hollow Men or Journey of the Magi). Perhaps his most famous poem, it details the journey of the human soul searching for redemption. He owes most of his ideas to the philosophies of English idealist F.H. Bradley. Eliots understanding of poetic epistemology is a version of Bradleys theory, that knowing involves three levels (immediate, relational, and transcendent), (Cooper 94). Bradley believed that there exists a prior consciousness, a conscious consciousness and a transcendent consciousness. Eliot did his Harvard dissertation on Bradleys philosophies and knew them quite well.
The first part of The Waste Land, titled The Burial of the Dead, discusses the seasons and gives the essential features of Eliots waste land. The first seven lines are thought to be amongst the best known and most-quoted lines in poetry. These first lines are thought to be spoken by Countess Marie Larisch, offering a resistance to life and denial of hope or rebirth, (Gish 45). The mention of dull ... more

thomas stearns eliot

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T. S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men"


Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri of New England
descent, on Sept. 26, 1888.  He entered Harvard University in 1906, completed
his courses in three years and earned a master's degree the next year.  After a
year at the Sorbonne in Paris, he returned to Harvard.  Further study led him to
Merton College, Oxford, and he decided to stay in England. He worked first as a
teacher and then in Lloyd's Bank until 1925.  Then he joined the London
publishing firm of Faber and Gwyer, becoming director when the firm became Faber
and Faber in 1929.  Eliot won the Nobel prize for literature in 1948 and other
major literary awards.
Eliot saw an exhausted poetic mode being employed, that contained no
verbal excitement or original craftsmanship, by the Georgian poets who were
active when he settled in London.  He sought to make poetry more subtle, more
suggestive, and at the same time more precise.  He learned the necessity of
clear and precise images, and he learned too, to fear romantic softness and to
regard the poetic medium rather than the poet's personality as the important
factor.  Eliot saw in the French symbolists how image could be both absolutely
precise in what it referred to physically and at the same time endlessly
suggestive in the meanings it set up because of its relationship to other images.
Eliot's real novelty was his deliberate elimination of all merely connective
and transitional passages, his building up of the total pattern of meaning
through the immediate comparison of images without overt explanation of what
they are doing, together with his use of indirect references to other works of
literature (some at times quite obscure).
Eliot starts his poem "The Hollow Men" with a quote from Joseph Conrad's
novel the Heart of Darkness.  The line "Mistah Kurtz-he dead" refers to a Mr.
Kurtz who was a European trader who had gone in the "the heart of darkness" by
traveling into the central African jungle, with European standards of life and
conduct.  Because he has no moral or spiritual strength to sustain him, he was
soon turned into a barbarian.  He differs, however, from Eliot's "hollow men" as
he is not paralyzed as they are , but on his death catches a glimpse of the
nature of his actions when he claims "The horror! the Horror!"  Kurtz is thus
one of the "lost /Violent souls" mentioned in lines 15-16.  Eliot next continues
with "A penny for the Old Guy".  This is a reference to the cry of English
children soliciting money for fireworks to commemorate Guy Fawkes day, November
5; which commemorates the "gunpowder plot" of 1605 in which Guy Fawkes and other
conspirators planned to blow up both houses of Parliament.  On this day, which
commemorates the failure of the explosion, the likes of Fawkes are burned in
effigy and mock explosions using fireworks are produced.  The relation of this
custom to the poem suggests another inference: as the children make a game of
make believe out of Guy Fawkes , so do we make a game out of religion.
The first lines bring the title and theme into a critical relationship.
We are like the "Old Guy", effigies stuffed with straw.  It may also be noticed
that the first and last part of the poem indicate a church service, and the
ritual service throughout.  This is indicated in the passages "Leaning
together...whisper together", and the voices "quiet and meaningless" as the
service drones on.  The erstwhile worshippers disappear in a blur of shape,
shade gesture, to which normality is attached.  Then the crucial orientation is
developed, towards "death's other Kingdom."  We  know that we are in the Kingdom
of death, not as "violent souls" but as empty effigies, "filled with straw", of
this religious service.
Part two defines the hollow men in relation to the reality with those
"direct eyes have met".  "Direct eyes" symbolizing those who represent something
positive (direct).  Fortunately, the eyes he dare not meet even in dreams do not
appear in "death's dream kingdom."  They are only reflected through broken light
and shadows, all is perceived indirectly.  He would not be any nearer , any more
direct, in this twilight kingdom.  He fears the ultimate vision.
Part three defines the representation of death's kingdom in relationship
to the worship of the hollow men.  A dead, arid land, like it's people, it
raises stone images of the spiritual, which are implored by the dead.  And again
the "fading star" establishes a sense of ... more

thomas stearns eliot

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  • H: T.S. Eliot H: T.S. Eliot T.S. Eliot T.S. Eliot changed the face of poetry. He has been regarded as the most celebrated poet of his era. This Nobel Prize winning poet is credited with viewing the world as it appears, without making any optimistic judgements. Despite the ire of Mr. Eliot, it would be safe to regard him as a prophet of doom. His works reflected his frustration with mankind, and the seeming need to be released from this cold world. It was once said, How unpleasant to meet Mr. Eliot. (Time 1) His rather cy...
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  • T: edgar allan poe T: edgar allan poe edgar allan poe Emily Burchett Seventh Period College English III 17 March 1997 Poes' Tales Survive Many people have adored Edgar Allan Poes' writings and many have hated them. Overall Poe still appeals to a large audience today who enjoy the terror, the excitement, and the unique writing style he influenced and provided for readers all over the world. All around the world Poe influences in all types of writing,For a moment I can see the importance and the influence Poe has had on three French ...
  • E: T.S. ELIOT E: T.S. ELIOT T.S. ELIOT Throughout Thomas Stearns Eliot's poems run Christian themes and values that evoke a critical view of society. Though he published relatively little compared to other poets of his caliber, he has been recognized as both a poet and a critic. He himself has been criticized for unnecessary obscurity and for authorian severity (Bradley, 1163). Throughout his poems and other works, he professes a distinct critique upon society due mainly because of his belief that Christianity should play ...
  • A: Comparing TS Eliot and Charles Dickins A: Comparing TS Eliot and Charles Dickins comparing TS Eliot and Charles Dickins The poetry written by Thomas Stearns Eliot, Portrait of a Lady has a strong connection with the novel by Henry James. Both deal with almost the same issues. In the poem Eliot talks about how a person will live his or her life during the 19th century. How they would always do exactly what was considered right during that era in society. Eliot mention how rare and strange it is to find true friends. In the novel everyone pretend to be your best friend and was...
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  • I: T.S. ELIOT I: T.S. ELIOT T.S. ELIOT Throughout Thomas Stearns Eliot\'s poems run Christian themes and values that evoke a critical view of society. Though he published relatively little compared to other poets of his caliber, he has been recognized as both a poet and a critic. He himself has been criticized for unnecessary obscurity and for authorian severity (Bradley, 1163). Throughout his poems and other works, he professes a distinct critique upon society due mainly because of his belief that Christianity should play...
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  • T. S. Eliot T. S. Eliot T. S. Eliot T.S. ELIOT Thomas Stearns Eliot was born to a very distinguished New England family on September 26, 1888, in St. Louis, Missouri. His father, Henry Ware, was a very successful businessman and his mother, Charlotte Stearns Eliot, was a poetess. His paternal grandfather established and presided over Washington University. While visiting Great Britain in 1915, World War I started and Eliot took up a permanent residency there. In 1927, he became a British citizen. While living in Britai...
  • ELIOT TS ELIOT TS ELIOT TS Thomas Stearns Eliot was born on September 26, 1888, in St.Louis Missouri, to Henry Ware and Charlotte Stearns Elliot. His father was a businessman, and his mother was a poetress. Eliot came from a financially endowed family and was allowed to attend all of the best schools. His education started at the prestigies grammar school Smith Academy in St.Louis. He then went to secondary school in Massachuets at Milton Academy, a preparatory school for Harvard. In 1906, he started his Bachelor...
  • T.S. Eliot T.S. Eliot T.S. Eliot The Life of T.S. Eliot Thomas Stearns Eliot was born on September 26, 1888, in St.Louis Missouri, to Henry Ware and Charlotte Stearns Elliot. His father was a businessman, and his mother was a poetress. Eliot came from a financially endowed family and was allowed to attend all of the best schools. His education started at the prestigies grammar school Smith Academy in St.Louis. He then went to secondary school in Massachuets at Milton Academy, a preparatory school for Harvard. In 1906...
  • No title No title Thomas Stearns Eliot Thomas Stearns Eliot was born to a very distinguished New England family on September 26, 1888, in St. Louis, Missouri. His father, Henry Ware, was a very successful businessman and his mother, Charlotte Stearns Eliot, was a poetess. His paternal grandfather established and presided over Washington University. While visiting Great Britain in 1915, World War I started and Eliot took up a permanent residency there. In 1927, he became a British citizen. While living in Britain,...
  • T.S. Eliot T.S. Eliot T.S. Eliot T.S. Eliot changed the face of poetry. He has been regarded as the most celebrated poet of his era. This Nobel Prize winning poet is credited with viewing the world as it appears, without making any optimistic judgements. Despite the ire of Mr. Eliot, it would be safe to regard him as a prophet of doom. His works reflected his frustration with mankind, and the seeming need to be released from this cold world. It was once said, How unpleasant to meet Mr. Eliot. (Time 1) His rathe...