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T.S. Eliot’s birth anniversary: Which of this 20th century poet’s work is your favourite?

Poet T. S. Eliot is known for his words that often had more than one meaning. On his birth anniversary, today, here are few of his most popular verses.

books Updated: Sep 26, 2017 19:55 IST
Henna Rakheja
Henna Rakheja
Hindustan Times
TS Eliot,Poet,The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
Poet T.S. Eliot died at the age of 76. (Poetry Changes Lives)

For a poetry lover, T.S. Eliot (1888–1965) is one name that’s synonymous with works based on the climax of life, that is death. Another popular imagery in his poems is time.

Poets in general pick up references from their lives, but Eliot reportedly always insisted that his poetry had nothing to do with his personal life. Though there are a few who think that his works have all the elements of a painful, unsuccessful passion.

Even to those who aren’t really fond of poems, Eliot’s name isn’t unknown. And, this familiarity with the 20th century modernist is not because of his popularity, but due to the way he dealt with words and framed them into verses, to be relevant even centuries down the line.

Unlike most poets, Eliot wrote very few poems. But, whatever he wrote has become iconic.

Here are a few verses from his poetry for you to relive his magic:

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 etherized 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.

A para from (neelthemuse)

The Waste Land

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.

The Hollow Men

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.

The Four Quartets

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.

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First Published: Sep 26, 2017 19:45 IST