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Biography of T.S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot
date place
born 26. September, 1888 St.Lous (USA)
died 04. January, 1965 London

Thomas Stearns Eliot, usually known as T. S. Eliot, was an essayist, publisher, playwright, literary and social critic, and one of the twentieth century's major English poets. Eliot attracted widespread attention for his poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1915), which is seen as a masterpiece of the Modernist movement. It was followed by some of the best-known poems in the English language, including The Waste Land (1922), The Hollow Men (1925). He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948, for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry. For a poet of his stature, Eliot produced a relatively small number of poems. Eliot was born into the Eliot family, a Boston Brahmin family with roots in England and New England. He was the last of six surviving children. Thomas Stearns Eliot attended Smith Academy in St. Louis and then the Milton Academy in Massachusetts. Soon after the turn of the century, Eliot began seeing his poems and short stories in print, and writing would occupy him for the rest of his life. Eliot began courses at Harvard University in 1906, graduating three years later with a Bachelor of Arts degree. At Harvard, he was greatly influenced by professors renowned in poetry, philosophy and literary criticism, and the rest of his literary career would be shaped by all three. After graduating, Eliot served as a philosophy assistant at Harvard for a year, and then left for France and the Sorbonne to study philosophy. From 1911 to 1914, Eliot was back at Harvard, where he deepened his knowledge by reading Indian philosophy and studying Sanskrit. He finished his advanced degree at Harvard while in Europe, but due to the onset of World War I, he never went back to Harvard to take the final oral exam for his Ph.D. He soon married Vivienne Haigh-Wood a Cambridge governess, and took a job in London, England, as a school teacher. The marriage was markedly unhappy, in part because of Vivienne's health issues. The first poem of this period, and the first of Eliot's important works, was "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," which appeared in Poetry in 1915. His first book of poems, Prufrock and Other Observations, followed in 1917, and the collection established Eliot as a leading poet of his day. While writing poetry and tending to his day job, Eliot was busy writing literary criticism and reviews, and his work in the criticism field would become as respected as his poetry. n 1919, Eliot published Poems, which contained "Gerontion." The poem was a blank-verse interior monologue, and it was unlike anything that had ever been written in the English language. As if that didn't garner enough attention, in 1922 Eliot saw the publication of "The Waste Land," a colossal and complex examination of postwar disillusionment. At the time he wrote the poem, Eliot's marriage was failing, and he and his wife were both experiencing "nervous disorders." The Waste Land almost immediately developed a cult-like following from all literary corners, and it is often considered the most influential poetic work of the 20th century. The same year "The Waste Land" was published, Eliot founded what would become an influential literary journal called Criterion. In 1917, he took a position at Lloyds Bank in London, working on foreign accounts. In 1925 Eliot left Lloyds to join the publishing firm Faber and Gwyer, later Faber and Faber, where he remained for the rest of his career, eventually becoming a director. At Faber and Faber, he was responsible for publishing important English poets like W.H. Auden, Stephen Spender, and Ted Hughes. On 29 June 1927, Eliot converted to Anglicanism from Unitarianism, and in November that year he took British citizenship, renouncing his American citizenship. By 1932, Eliot had been contemplating a separation from his wife for some time. When Harvard offered him the Charles Eliot Norton professorship for the 1932–1933 academic year, he accepted and left Vivienne in England. Upon his return, he arranged for a formal separation from her, avoiding all but one meeting with her between his leaving for America in 1932 and her death in 1947. Vivienne was committed to the Northumberland House mental hospital, Stoke Newington, in 1938, and remained there until she died. Although Eliot was still legally her husband, he never visited her. For his vast influence—in poetry, criticism and drama—T.S. Eliot received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. On 10 January 1957, at the age of 68, Eliot married Esmé Valerie Fletcher, who was 30. In contrast to his first marriage, Eliot knew Fletcher well, as she had been his secretary at Faber and Faber since August 1949. For many years Eliot had suffered from lung-related health problems including bronchitis and tachycardia caused by heavy smoking. He died of emphysema at his home in Kensington in London. Eliot has been one of the most daring innovators of twentieth-century poetry. Never compromising either with the public or indeed with language itself, 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.

Aunt Helen

Miss Helen Slingsby was my maiden aunt, and lived in a small house near a fashionable square cared for by servants to the number of four. Now when she died there was silence in heaven and silence at her end of the street. The shutters were drawn and the undertaker wiped his feet – He was aware that this sort of thing had occurred before. The dogs were handsomely provided for, but shortly afterwards the parrot died too. The Dresden clock continued ticking on the mantelpiece, and the footman sat upon the dining-table holding the second housemaid on his knees – who had always been so careful while her mistress lived.

Before Morning

While all the East was weaving red with gray, the flowers at the window turned toward dawn, petal on petal, waiting for the day, fresh flowers, withered flowers, flowers of dawn. This morning’s flowers and flowers of yesterday their fragrance drifts across the room at dawn, fragrance of bloom and fragrance of decay, fresh flowers, withered flowers, flowers of dawn.

Circe's Palace

Around her fountain which flows with the voice of men in pain‚ are flowers that no man knows. Their petals are fanged and red with hideous streak and stain; They sprang from the limbs of the dead. — We shall not come here again. Panthers rise from their lairs in the forest which thickens below, along the garden stairs the sluggish python lies; The peacocks walk, stately and slow, and they look at us with the eyes of men whom we knew long ago.

Eyes That Last I Saw in Tears

Eyes that last I saw in tears through division here in death’s dream kingdom the golden vision reappears I see the eyes but not the tears this is my affliction. This is my affliction eyes I shall not see again eyes of decision eyes I shall not see unless at the door of death’s other kingdom where, as in this, the eyes outlast a little while a little while outlast the tears and hold us in derision.


As she laughed I was aware of becoming involved in her laughter and being part of it, until her teeth were only accidental stars with a talent for squad-drill. I was drawn in by short gasps, inhaled at each momentary recovery, lost finally in the dark caverns of her throat, bruised by the ripple of unseen muscles. An elderly waiter with trembling hands was hurriedly spreading a pink and white checked cloth over the rusty green iron table, saying: ‘If the lady and gentleman wish to take their tea in the garden, if the lady and gentleman wish to take their tea in the garden…’ I decided that if the shaking of her breasts could be stopped, some of the fragments of the afternoon might be collected, and I concentrated my attention with careful subtlety to this end.

Morning at the Window

They are rattling breakfast plates in basement kitchens, and along the trampled edges of the street I am aware of the damp souls of housemaids sprouting despondently at area gates. The brown waves of fog toss up to me twisted faces from the bottom of the street, and tear from a passer-by with muddy skirts an aimless smile that hovers in the air and vanishes along the level of the roofs.

Portrait of a Lady

Thou hast committed — Fornication: but that was in another country, And besides, the wench is dead. The Jew of Malta I Among the smoke and fog of a December afternoon you have the scene arrange itself — as it will seem to do — with ‘I have saved this afternoon for you’; And four wax candles in the darkened room, four rings of light upon the ceiling overhead, an atmosphere of Juliet’s tomb prepared for all the things to be said, or left unsaid. We have been, let us say, to hear the latest Pole transmit the Preludes, through his hair and finger-tips. ‘So intimate, this Chopin, that I think his soul should be resurrected only among friends some two or three, who will not touch the bloom that is rubbed and questioned in the concert room.’ And so the conversation slips among velleities and carefully caught regrets through attenuated tones of violins mingled with remote cornets and begins. ‘You do not know how much they mean to me, my friends, and how, how rare and strange it is, to find in a life composed so much, so much of odds and ends, (For indeed I do not love it… you knew? you are not blind! How keen you are!) to find a friend who has these qualities, who has, and gives those qualities upon which friendship lives. How much it means that I say this to you — without these friendships — life, what cauchemar!’ Among the windings of the violins and the ariettes of cracked cornets inside my brain a dull tom-tom begins absurdly hammering a prelude of its own, capricious monotone that is at least one definite ‘false note.’ Let us take the air, in a tobacco trance, admire the monuments, discuss the late events, correct our watches by the public clocks. then sit for half an hour and drink our bocks. II Now that lilacs are in bloom she has a bowl of lilacs in her room and twists one in her fingers while she talks. ‘Ah, my friend, you do not know, you do not know what life is, you who hold it in your hands’; (Slowly twisting the lilac stalks) ‘You let it flow from you, you let it flow, and youth is cruel, and has no more remorse and smiles at situations which it cannot see.’ I smile, of course, and go on drinking tea. ‘Yet with these April sunsets, that somehow recall my buried life, and Paris in the Spring, I feel immeasurably at peace, and find the world to be wonderful and youthful, after all.’ The voice returns like the insistent out-of-tune of a broken violin on an August afternoon: ‘I am always sure that you understand my feelings, always sure that you feel, sure that across the gulf you reach your hand. You are invulnerable, you have no Achilles’ heel. You will go on, and when you have prevailed you can say: at this point many a one has failed. But what have I, but what have I, my friend, to give you, what can you receive from me? only the friendship and the sympathy of one about to reach her journey’s end. I shall sit here, serving tea to friends….’ I take my hat: how can I make a cowardly amends for what she has said to me? You will see me any morning in the park reading the comics and the sporting page. Particularly I remark an English countess goes upon the stage. A Greek was murdered at a Polish dance, another bank defaulter has confessed. I keep my countenance, I remain self-possessed except when a street-piano, mechanical and tired reiterates some worn-out common song with the smell of hyacinths across the garden recalling things that other people have desired. Are these ideas right or wrong? III The October night comes down; returning as before except for a slight sensation of being ill at ease I mount the stairs and turn the handle of the door and feel as if I had mounted on my hands and knees. ‘And so you are going abroad; and when do you return? but that’s a useless question. You hardly know when you are coming back, you will find so much to learn.’ My smile falls heavily among the bric-à-brac. ‘Perhaps you can write to me.’ My self-possession flares up for a second; This is as I had reckoned. ‘I have been wondering frequently of late (But our beginnings never know our ends!) why we have not developed into friends.’ I feel like one who smiles, and turning shall remark suddenly, his expression in a glass. My self-possession gutters; We are really in the dark. ‘For everybody said so, all our friends, they all were sure our feelings would relate so closely! I myself can hardly understand. We must leave it now to fate. You will write, at any rate. Perhaps it is not too late. I shall sit here, serving tea to friends.’ And I must borrow every changing shape to find expression… dance, dance like a dancing bear, cry like a parrot, chatter like an ape. Let us take the air, in a tobacco trance — Well! and what if she should die some afternoon, afternoon grey and smoky, evening yellow and rose; Should die and leave me sitting pen in hand with the smoke coming down above the housetops; doubtful, for a while not knowing what to feel or if I understand or whether wise or foolish, tardy or too soon… Would she not have the advantage, after all? This music is successful with a ‘dying fall’ now that we talk of dying — and should I have the right to smile?


I The winter evening settles down with smell of steaks in passageways. Six o’clock. The burnt-out ends of smoky days. And now a gusty shower wraps the grimy scraps of withered leaves about your feet and newspapers from vacant lots; The showers beat on broken blinds and chimney-pots, and at the corner of the street a lonely cab-horse steams and stamps. And then the lighting of the lamps. II The morning comes to consciousness of faint stale smells of beer from the sawdust-trampled street with all its muddy feet that press to early coffee-stands. With the other masquerades that time resumes, one thinks of all the hands that are raising dingy shades in a thousand furnished rooms. III You tossed a blanket from the bed, you lay upon your back, and waited; You dozed, and watched the night revealing the thousand sordid images of which your soul was constituted; They flickered against the ceiling. And when all the world came back and the light crept up between the shutters and you heard the sparrows in the gutters, you had such a vision of the street as the street hardly understands; Sitting along the bed’s edge, where you curled the papers from your hair, or clasped the yellow soles of feet in the palms of both soiled hands. IV His soul stretched tight across the skies that fade behind a city block, or trampled by insistent feet at four and five and six o’clock; And short square fingers stuffing pipes, and evening newspapers, and eyes assured of certain certainties, the conscience of a blackened street impatient to assume the world. I am moved by fancies that are curled around these images, and cling: The notion of some infinitely gentle infinitely suffering thing. Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh; The worlds revolve like ancient women gathering fuel in vacant lots.

Rhapsody on a Windy Night

Twelve o’clock. Along the reaches of the street held in a lunar synthesis. Whispering lunar incantations dissolve the floors of memory and all its clear relations, its divisions and precisions. Every street lamp that I pass beats like a fatalistic drum, and through the spaces of the dark midnight shakes the memory as a madman shakes a dead geranium. Half-past one, the street-lamp sputtered, the street-lamp muttered, the street-lamp said, ‘Regard that woman who hesitates towards you in the light of the door which opens on her like a grin. You see the border of her dress is torn and stained with sand, and you see the corner of her eye twists like a crooked pin.’ The memory throws up high and dry a crowd of twisted things; A twisted branch upon the beach eaten smooth, and polished as if the world gave up the secret of its skeleton, stiff and white. A broken spring in a factory yard, rust that clings to the form that the strength has left hard and curled and ready to snap. Half-past two, the street-lamp said, ‘Remark the cat which flattens itself in the gutter, slips out its tongue and devours a morsel of rancid butter.’ So the hand of the child, automatic, slipped out and pocketed a toy that was running along the quay, I could see nothing behind that child’s eye. I have seen eyes in the street trying to peer through lighted shutters, and a crab one afternoon in a pool, an old crab with barnacles on his back, gripped the end of a stick which I held him. Half-past three, the lamp sputtered, the lamp muttered in the dark. the lamp hummed: ‘Regard the moon, la lune ne garde aucune rancune, she winks a feeble eye, she smiles into corners. She smooths the hair of the grass. The moon has lost her memory. A washed-out smallpox cracks her face, her hand twists a paper rose, that smells of dust and eau de Cologne, she is alone with all the old nocturnal smells that cross and cross across her brain.’ The reminiscence comes of sunless dry geraniums and dust in crevices, smells of chestnuts in the streets, and female smells in shuttered rooms, and cigarettes in corridors and cocktail smells in bars. The lamp said, ‘Four o’clock, here is the number on the door. Memory! You have the key, The little lamp spreads a ring on the stair. Mount. The bed is open; the tooth-brush hangs on the wall, put your shoes at the door, sleep, prepare for life.’ The last twist of the knife.


When we came home across the hill no leaves were fallen from the trees; The gentle fingers of the breeze had torn no quivering cobweb down. The hedgerow bloomed with flowers still, no withered petals lay beneath; But the wild roses in your wreath were faded, and the leaves were brown.

The Hippopotamus

The BROAD-BACKED hippopotamus rests on his belly in the mud; Although he seems so firm to us he is merely flesh and blood. Flesh and blood is weak and frail, susceptible to nervous shock; While the True Church can never fail for it is based upon a rock. The hippo’s feeble steps may err in compassing material ends, while the True Church need never stir to gather in its dividends. The ‘potamus can never reach the mango on the mango-tree; But fruits of pomegranate and peach refresh the Church from over sea. At mating time the hippo’s voice betrays inflexions hoarse and odd, but every week we hear rejoice the Church, at being one with God. The hippopotamus’s day is passed in sleep; at night he hunts; God works in a mysterious way — the Church can sleep and feed at once. I saw the ‘potamus take wing ascending from the damp savannas, and quiring angels round him sing the praise of God, in loud hosannas. Blood of the Lamb shall wash him clean and him shall heavenly arms enfold, among the saints he shall be seen performing on a harp of gold. He shall be washed as white as snow, by all the martyr’d virgins kist, while the True Church remains below wrapt in the old miasmal mist.

The Hollow Men

Mistah Kurtz-he dead I 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 rats' feet over broken glass in our dry cellar. Shape without form, shade without colour, paralysed force, gesture without motion; Those who have crossed with direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom remember us-if at all-not as lost violent souls, but only as the hollow men the stuffed men. II Eyes I dare not meet in dreams in death's dream kingdom these do not appear: There, the eyes are sunlight on a broken column there, is a tree swinging and voices are in the wind's singing more distant and more solemn than a fading star. Let me be no nearer in death's dream kingdom let me also wear such deliberate disguises rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves in a field behaving as the wind behaves no nearer - Not that final meeting in the twilight kingdom. III This is the dead land this is cactus land here the stone images are raised, here they receive the supplication of a dead man's hand under the twinkle of a fading star. Is it like this in death's other kingdom waking alone at the hour when we are trembling with tenderness lips that would kiss form prayers to broken stone. IV The eyes are not here there are no eyes here in this valley of dying stars in this hollow valley this broken jaw of our lost kingdoms. In this last of meeting places we grope together and avoid speech gathered on this beach of the tumid river. Sightless, unless the eyes reappear as the perpetual star multifoliate rose of death's twilight kingdom the hope only of empty men. V Here we go round the prickly pear prickly pear prickly pear here we go round the prickly pear at five o'clock in the morning. Between the idea and the reality, between the motion and the act falls the Shadow. For Thine is the Kingdom Between the conception and the creation, between the emotion and the response falls the Shadow. Life is very long Between the desire and the spasm, between the potency and the existence, between the essence and the descent falls the Shadow. For Thine is the Kingdom For Thine is life is for Thine is the This is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.

The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock

Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky like a patient etherised 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. In the room the women come and go talking of Michelangelo. The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes, the yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes, licked its tongue into the corners of the evening, lingered upon the pools that stand in drains, let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys, slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, and seeing that it was a soft October night, curled once about the house, and fell asleep. And indeed there will be time for the yellow smoke that slides along the street rubbing its back upon the window-panes; There will be time, there will be time to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet; There will be time to murder and create, and time for all the works and days of hands that lift and drop a question on your plate; Time for you and time for me, and time yet for a hundred indecisions, and for a hundred visions and revisions, before the taking of a toast and tea. In the room the women come and go talking of Michelangelo. And indeed there will be time to wonder, ‘Do I dare?’ and, ‘Do I dare?’ Time to turn back and descend the stair, with a bald spot in the middle of my hair — (They will say: ‘How his hair is growing thin!’) My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin, my necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin — (They will say: ‘But how his arms and legs are thin!’) Do I dare disturb the universe? In a minute there is time for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse. For I have known them all already, known them all — have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons; I know the voices dying with a dying fall beneath the music from a farther room. So how should I presume? And I have known the eyes already, known them all — the eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase, and when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin, when I am pinned and wriggling on the wall, then how should I begin to spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways? And how should I presume? And I have known the arms already, known them all — arms that are braceleted and white and bare (But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!) Is it perfume from a dress that makes me so digress? Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl. And should I then presume? And how should I begin? * * * Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets and watched the smoke that rises from the pipes of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas. * * * And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully! Smoothed by long fingers, asleep … tired … or it malingers, stretched on the floor, here beside you and me. Should I, after tea and cakes and ices, have the strength to force the moment to its crisis? But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed, though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter, I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter; 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. And would it have been worth it, after all, after the cups, the marmalade, the tea, among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me, would it have been worth while, to have bitten off the matter with a smile, to have squeezed the universe into a ball to roll it towards some overwhelming question, to say: ‘I am Lazarus, come from the dead, come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all’— if one, settling a pillow by her head, should say: ‘That is not what I meant at all. that is not it, at all.’ And would it have been worth it, after all, would it have been worth while, after the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets, after the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor — and this, and so much more? — It is impossible to say just what I mean! But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen: Would it have been worth while if one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl, and turning toward the window, should say: ‘That is not it at all, that is not what I meant, at all.’ * * * No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; Am an attendant lord, one that will do to swell a progress, start a scene or two, advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool, deferential, glad to be of use, politic, cautious, and meticulous; Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse; At times, indeed, almost ridiculous — almost, at times, the Fool. I grow old … I grow old … I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. 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. I have seen them riding seaward on the waves combing the white hair of the waves blown back when the wind blows the water white and black. We have lingered in the chambers of the sea by sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown till human voices wake us, and we drown.

The Waste Land

I. The Burial of the Dead April is the cruellest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain. Winter kept us warm, covering Earth in forgetful snow, feeding a little life with dried tubers. Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee with a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade, and went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten, and drank coffee, and talked for an hour. Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch. And when we were children, staying at the archduke’s, my cousin’s, he took me out on a sled. And I was frightened. He said, Marie, Marie, hold on tight. And down we went. In the mountains, there you feel free. I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter. What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow out of this stony rubbish? Son of man, you cannot say, or guess, for you know only a heap of broken images, where the sun beats, and the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief, and the dry stone no sound of water. Only there is shadow under this red rock, (Come in under the shadow of this red rock), and I will show you something different from either your shadow at morning striding behind you or your shadow at evening rising to meet you; I will show you fear in a handful of dust. Frisch weht der Wind Der Heimat zu Mein Irisch Kind Wo weilest du? ‘You gave me hyacinths first a year ago; ‘They called me the hyacinth girl.’ — Yet when we came back, late, from the hyacinth garden, your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither living nor dead, and I knew nothing, looking into the heart of light, the silence. Oed’ und leer das Meer. Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante, had a bad cold, nevertheless is known to be the wisest woman in Europe, with a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she, is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor, (Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!) Here is Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks, the lady of situations. Here is the man with three staves, and here the Wheel, and here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card, which is blank, is something he carries on his back, which I am forbidden to see. I do not find the Hanged Man. Fear death by water. I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring. Thank you. If you see dear Mrs. Equitone, tell her I bring the horoscope myself: One must be so careful these days. Unreal City, under the brown fog of a winter dawn, a crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many, I had not thought death had undone so many. Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled, and each man fixed his eyes before his feet. Flowed up the hill and down King William Street, to where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours with a dead sound on the final stroke of nine. There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying: ‘Stetson! ‘You who were with me in the ships at Mylae! ‘That corpse you planted last year in your garden, ‘has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year? ‘Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed? ‘O keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men, ‘or with his nails he’ll dig it up again! ‘You! hypocrite lecteur! — mon semblable, — mon frère!’ II. A Game of Chess The Chair she sat in, like a burnished throne, glowed on the marble, where the glass held up by standards wrought with fruited vines from which a golden Cupidon peeped out (another hid his eyes behind his wing) dubled the flames of sevenbranched candelabra reflecting light upon the table as the glitter of her jewels rose to meet it, from satin cases poured in rich profusion. In vials of ivory and coloured glass unstoppered, lurked her strange synthetic perfumes, unguent, powdered, or liquid — troubled, confused and drowned the sense in odours; stirred by the air that freshened from the window, these ascended in fattening the prolonged candle-flames, flung their smoke into the laquearia, Stirring the pattern on the coffered ceiling. huge sea-wood fed with copper burned green and orange, framed by the coloured stone, in which sad light a carvèd dolphin swam. Above the antique mantel was displayed as though a window gave upon the sylvan scene the change of Philomel, by the barbarous king so rudely forced; yet there the nightingale filled all the desert with inviolable voice and still she cried, and still the world pursues, ‘Jug Jug’ to dirty ears. And other withered stumps of time were told upon the walls; staring forms leaned out, leaning, hushing the room enclosed. Footsteps shuffled on the stair. Under the firelight, under the brush, her hair spread out in fiery points glowed into words, then would be savagely still. ‘My nerves are bad tonight. Yes, bad. Stay with me. speak to me. Why do you never speak? Speak. What are you thinking of? What thinking? What? I never know what you are thinking. Think.’ I think we are in rats’ alley where the dead men lost their bones. ‘What is that noise?’ - The wind under the door. ‘What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?’ - Nothing again nothing. ‘Do You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember nothing?’ I remember those are pearls that were his eyes. ‘Are you alive, or not? Is there nothing in your head?’ - But O O O O that Shakespeherian Rag — It’s so elegant, so intelligent. ‘What shall I do now? What shall I do? I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street with my hair down, so. What shall we do tomorrow? What shall we ever do?’ - The hot water at ten. And if it rains, a closed car at four. And we shall play a game of chess, pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door. When Lil’s husband got demobbed, I said — I didn’t mince my words, I said to her myself, HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME now Albert’s coming back, make yourself a bit smart. He’ll want to know what you done with that money he gave you To get yourself some teeth. He did, I was there. You have them all out, Lil, and get a nice set, he said, I swear, I can’t bear to look at you. And no more can’t I, I said, and think of poor Albert, he’s been in the army four years, he wants a good time, and if you don’t give it him, there’s others will, I said. Oh is there, she said. Something o’ that, I said. Then I’ll know who to thank, she said, and give me a straight look. HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME if you don’t like it you can get on with it, I said. Others can pick and choose if you can’t. But if Albert makes off, it won’t be for lack of telling. you ought to be ashamed, I said, to look so antique. (And her only thirty-one.) I can’t help it, she said, pulling a long face, it’s them pills I took, to bring it off, she said. (She’s had five already, and nearly died of young George.) The chemist said it would be all right, but I’ve never been the same. You are a proper fool, I said. Well, if Albert won’t leave you alone, there it is, I said, what you get married for if you don’t want children? HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME well, that Sunday Albert was home, they had a hot gammon, and they asked me in to dinner, to get the beauty of it hot — HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME Goonight Bill. Goonight Lou. Goonight May. Goonight. Ta ta. Goonight. Goonight. Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night. III. The Fire Sermon The river’s tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind crosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed. Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song. The river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers, silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends or other testimony of summer nights. The nymphs are departed. And their friends, the loitering heirs of city directors; Departed, have left no addresses. By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept... Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song, sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long. But at my back in a cold blast I hear the rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear. A rat crept softly through the vegetation dragging its slimy belly on the bank while I was fishing in the dull canal on a winter evening round behind the gashouse musing upon the king my brother’s wreck and on the king my father’s death before him. White bodies naked on the low damp ground and bones cast in a little low dry garret, rattled by the rat’s foot only, year to year. 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 et O ces voix d’enfants, chantant dans la coupole! Twit twit twit, Jug jug jug jug jug jug, so rudely forc’d. Tereu... Unreal City under the brown fog of a winter noon Mr. Eugenides, the Smyrna merchant unshaven, with a pocket full of currants C.i.f. London: documents at sight, asked me in demotic French to luncheon at the Cannon Street Hotel followed by a weekend at the Metropole. At the violet hour, when the eyes and back turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits like a taxi throbbing waiting, I Tiresias, though blind, throbbing between two lives, old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see at the violet hour, the evening hour that strives homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea, the typist home at teatime, clears her breakfast, lights her stove, and lays out food in tins. Out of the window perilously spread her drying combinations touched by the sun’s last rays, on the divan are piled (at night her bed) stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays. I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs perceived the scene, and foretold the rest — I too awaited the expected guest. He, the young man carbuncular, arrives, a small house agent’s clerk, with one bold stare, one of the low on whom assurance sits as a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire. The time is now propitious, as he guesses, the meal is ended, she is bored and tired, endeavours to engage her in caresses which still are unreproved, if undesired. Flushed and decided, he assaults at once; exploring hands encounter no defence; His vanity requires no response, and makes a welcome of indifference. (And I Tiresias have foresuffered all enacted on this same divan or bed; I who have sat by Thebes below the wall and walked among the lowest of the dead.) Bestows one final patronising kiss, and gropes his way, finding the stairs unlit... She turns and looks a moment in the glass, hardly aware of her departed lover; Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass: “Well now that’s done: and I’m glad it’s over.” 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. “This music crept by me upon the waters” and along the Strand, up Queen Victoria Street. O City city, I can sometimes hear beside a public bar in Lower Thames Street, the pleasant whining of a mandoline and a clatter and a chatter from within where fishmen lounge at noon: where the walls of Magnus Martyr hold inexplicable splendour of Ionian white and gold. The river sweats oil and tar the barges drift with the turning tide red sails wide to leeward, swing on the heavy spar. The barges wash drifting logs down Greenwich reach past the Isle of Dogs. Weialala leia Wallala leialala Elizabeth and Leicester beating oars the stern was formed a gilded shell red and gold the brisk swell rippled both shores southwest wind carried down stream the peal of bells white towers Weialala leia Wallala leialala “Trams and dusty trees. Highbury bore me. Richmond and Kew undid me. By Richmond I raised my knees supine on the floor of a narrow canoe.” “My feet are at Moorgate, and my heart under my feet. After the event he wept. He promised a ‘new start.’ I made no comment. What should I resent?” “On Margate Sands. I can connect nothing with nothing. The broken fingernails of dirty hands. My people humble people who expect nothing.” la la To Carthage then I came burning burning burning burning, O Lord Thou pluckest me out O Lord Thou pluckest burning. IV. Death by Water Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead, forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell and the profit and loss. A current under sea picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell he passed the stages of his age and youth entering the whirlpool. Gentile or Jew o you who turn the wheel and look to windward, consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you. V. What the Thunder Said After the torchlight red on sweaty faces, after the frosty silence in the gardens, after the agony in stony places, the shouting and the crying, prison and palace and reverberation of thunder of spring over distant mountains he who was living is now dead we who were living are now dying with a little patience. Here is no water but only rock rock and no water and the sandy road the road winding above among the mountains which are mountains of rock without water if there were water we should stop and drink amongst the rock one cannot stop or think sweat is dry and feet are in the sand if there were only water amongst the rock dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit there is not even silence in the mountains but dry sterile thunder without rain there is not even solitude in the mountains but red sullen faces sneer and snarl from doors of mudcracked houses If there were water and no rock if there were rock and also water and water a spring a pool among the rock if there were the sound of water only not the cicada and dry grass singing but sound of water over a rock where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees drip drop drip drop drop drop drop but there is no water 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 gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded I do not know whether a man or a woman — but who is that on the other side of you? What is that sound high in the air murmur of maternal lamentation who are those hooded hordes swarming over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth ringed by the flat horizon only what is the city over the mountains cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air falling towers: Jerusalem, Athens, Alexandria, Vienna, London, Unreal. A woman drew her long black hair out tight and fiddled whisper music on those strings and bats with baby faces in the violet light whistled, and beat their wings and crawled head downward down a blackened wall and upside down in air were towers tolling reminiscent bells, that kept the hours and voices singing out of empty cisterns and exhausted wells. In this decayed hole among the mountains in the faint moonlight, the grass is singing over the tumbled graves, about the chapel there is the empty chapel, only the wind’s home. It has no windows, and the door swings, dry bones can harm no one. Only a cock stood on the rooftree: Co co rico, Co co rico, in a flash of lightning. Then a damp gust bringing rain. Ganga was sunken, and the limp leaves waited for rain, while the black clouds gathered far distant, over Himavant. The jungle crouched, humped in silence. Then spoke the thunder DA Datta: what have we given? My friend, blood shaking my heart the awful daring of a moment’s surrender which an age of prudence can never retract by this, and this only, we have existed which is not to be found in our obituaries or in memories draped by the beneficent spider or under seals broken by the lean solicitor in our empty rooms DA Dayadhvam: I have heard the key turn in the door once and turn once only we think of the key, each in his prison thinking of the key, each confirms a prison only at nightfall, aethereal rumours revive for a moment a broken Coriolanus DA Damyata: The boat responded gaily, to the hand expert with sail and oar the sea was calm, your heart would have responded gaily, when invited, beating obedient to controlling hands I sat upon the shore fishing, with the arid plain behind me shall I at least set my lands in order? London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down... Poi s’ascose nel foco che gli affina Quando fiam uti chelidon — O swallow swallow Le Prince d’Aquitaine à la tour abolie. These fragments I have shored against my ruins why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo’s mad againe. Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata. Shantih, shantih, shantih.

Whispers of Immortality

Webster was much possessed by death and saw the skull beneath the skin; And breastless creatures under ground leaned backward with a lipless grin. Daffodil bulbs instead of balls stared from the sockets of the eyes! He knew that thought clings round dead limbs tightening its lusts and luxuries. Donne, I suppose, was such another who found no substitute for sense; To seize and clutch and penetrate, expert beyond experience, He knew the anguish of the marrow the ague of the skeleton; No contact possible to flesh allayed the fever of the bone. * * * Grishkin is nice: her Russian eye is underlined for emphasis; Uncorseted, her friendly bust gives promise of pneumatic bliss. The couched Brazilian jaguar compels the scampering marmoset with subtle effluence of cat; Grishkin has a maisonette; The sleek Brazilian jaguar does not in its arboreal gloom distil so rank a feline smell as Grishkin in a drawing-room. And even the Abstract Entities circumambulate her charm; But our lot crawls between dry ribs to keep our metaphysics warm.