The Poetry of T.S. Eliot

By Zeen Elghusein   Published on 22 September, 2015

T.S. Eliot

American-born English poet, playwright and literary critic T.S. Eliot (1888-1965), was one of the pioneers of the modernist movement in literature.

Eliot’s work is an expression of his earnest interest in humanity although, after the First World War he felt an urgent need to candidly vituperate the moral indifference of mankind:

“Son of man, you cannot say, or guess, for you know only a heap of broken images”…

Nevertheless Eliot’s ultimate outlook is optimistic:

“So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”

T.S. Eliot is a poet of great and sincere faith in God, the merit and the majesty of his poetic abilities can best be experienced in his lines:

"We praise Thee, O God, for Thy glory displayed in all the Creatures of the earth, In the snow, in the rain, in the wind, in the storm; in all of Thy Creatures, both the hunters and the hunted. For all things exist only as seen by Thee, only as known by Thee, All things exist only in Thy light…"

In addition to the beauty of the lines where Eliot praises God, we find unparalled elegance and mastery especially in his enigmatic verse like:

"And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about…"

T.S. Eliot ideas and feelings are not displayed to his readers in a commonplace manner; he uses his modernist poetic technique to fascinate and enchant; he gives his works epitaphs and titles in order to introduce and relate them; thoughts are to be gathered from his fragments and his juxtapositions, his sudden questioning takes us by surprise:

“O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark.”

Eliot’s meditation has overwhelming, enchanting powers and expresses his fervent command of thought and feeling:

"I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith”…

T.S. Eliot’s work is a successful, well balanced marriage between his lofty feelings and his noble, original thought.

About the Author
T.S. Eliot

Zeen Elghusein holds a BA in English language and literature.

Article picture: Thomas Stearns ('T.S.') Eliot by Lady Ottoline Morrell (died 1938).

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