T. S. Eliot, fully Thomas Sterns Eliot

T. S.
Eliot, fully Thomas Sterns Eliot

American-born English Poet, Playwright, and Literary Critic

Author Quotes

You do not know what hope is, until you have lost it. You only know what it is not to hope: you do not know what it is to have hope taken from you.

In this brief transit where the dreams cross. The dream-crossed twilight between birth and dying (Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things from the wide window towards the granite shore. The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying unbroken wings and the lost heart stiffens and rejoices. In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices and the weak spirit quickens to rebel for the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell quickens to recover the cry of quail and the whirling plover and the blind eye creates the empty forms between the ivory gates. And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth. This is the time of tension between dying and birth. The place of solitude where three dreams cross between blue rocks. But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away, let the other yew be shaken and reply.

It's strange that words are so inadequate. Yet, like the asthmatic struggling for breath, so the lover must struggle for words.

Most of the evil in this world is done by people with good intentions.

No peevish winter wind shall chill, no sullen tropic sun shall wither the roses in the rose-garden which is ours and ours only.

One thing you cannot know: the sudden extinction of every alternative, the unexpected crash of the iron cataract. You do not know what hope is, until you have lost it. You only know what it is not to hope: you do not know what it is to have hope taken from you.

Playwriting gets into your blood and you can't stop it. At least not until the producers or the public tell you to.

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, I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker and in short, I was afraid.

That corpse you planted last year in your garden,'Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?

The dove descending breaks the air with flame of incandescent terror of which the tongues declare the one discharge from sin and error. The only hope, or else despair lies in the choice of pyre or pyre- to be redeemed from fire by fire. Who then devised the torment? Love. Love is the unfamiliar Name behind the hands that wove the intolerable shirt of flame which human power cannot remove. We only live, only suspire consumed by either fire or fire.

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter, it isn't just one of your holiday games; you may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter when I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES. First of all, there's the name that the family use daily, such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James, such as Victor or Jonathan, or George or Bill Bailey - all of them sensible everyday names. There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter, some for the gentlemen, some for the dames: such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter - But all of them sensible everyday names. But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular, a name that's peculiar, and more dignified, else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular, or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride? Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum, such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat, such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum - names that never belong to more than one cat. But above and beyond there's still one name left over, and that is the name that you never will guess; the name that no human research can discover - but THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess. When you notice a cat in profound meditation, the reason, I tell you, is always the same: his mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name: his ineffable effable Effanineffable deep and inscrutable singular Name.

The universality of irritation is the best assurance of peace. A country within which the divisions have gone too far is a danger to itself: a country which is too well united — whether by nature or by device, by honest purpose or by fraud and oppression — is a menace to others. In Italy and in Germany, we have seen that a unity with politico-economic aims, imposed violently and too rapidly, had unfortunate effects upon both nations. Their cultures have developed in the course of a history of extreme, and extremely sub-divided regionalism: the attempt to teach Germans to think of themselves as Germans first, and the attempt to teach Italians to think of themselves as Italians first, rather than as natives of a particular small principality or city, was to disturb the traditional culture from which alone any future culture could grow.

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.

This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.

Trying to use words, and every attempt Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure because one has only learnt to get the better of words. For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which one is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate with shabby equipment always deteriorating in the general mess of imprecision of feeling,

We do not pass through the same door twice or return to the door through which we did not pass

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.

Where does one go from a world of insanity? Somewhere on the other side of despair.

You have come to where the word 'insult' has no meaning; and you must put up with that.

Infinitely suffering thing. Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh; the worlds revolve like ancient women gathering fuel in vacant lots.

A cold coming we had of it, just the worst time of the year for a journey, and such a long journey: The ways deep and the weather sharp, the very dead of winter. And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory, Lying down in the melting snow. There were times we regretted the summer palaces on slopes, the terraces, and the silken girls bringing sherbet. Then the camel men cursing and grumbling and running away, and wanting their liquor and women, and the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters, And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly And the villages dirty and charging high prices: A hard time we had of it. At the end we preferred to travel all night, sleeping in snatches, with the voices singing in our ears, saying That this was all folly. Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley, Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation, with a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness, and three trees on the low sky. And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow. Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel, six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver, And feet kicking the empty wine-skins. But there was no information, and so we continued and arrived at evening, not a moment too soon Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory. All this was a long time ago, I remember, and I would do it again, but set down this set down this: were we led all that way for Birth or Death? There was a birth, certainly, We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death, but had thought they were different; this Birth was hard and bitter agony for us, like death, our death. We returned to our places, these Kingdoms, But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation, with an alien people clutching their gods. I should be glad of another death.

Moving between the legs of tables and of chairs, rising or falling, grasping at kisses and toys, advancing boldly, sudden to take alarm, retreating to the corner of arm and knee, eager to be reassured, taking pleasure in the fragrant brilliance of the Christmas tree.

No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice.

One thinks of all the hands that are raising dingy shades In a thousand furnished rooms.

Poetry can communicate before it is understood.

Author Picture
First Name
T. S.
Last Name
Eliot, fully Thomas Sterns Eliot
Birth Date
Death Date

American-born English Poet, Playwright, and Literary Critic