Inspiration, Quotes, Productivity and More

65 Inspirational Quotes From T.S. Eliot

Thomas Stearns Eliot was born on 26 September 1888 in St. Louis, Missouri. He was the youngest of seven children and came from a relatively wealthy family. T.S. Eliot did his studies at Harvard in 1906, and during his university days, he showed an eagerness for literature that he joined a number of clubs.

In between his years at Harvard, Thomas Eliot went to Sorbonne, Paris, where he attended lectures in philosophy. Besides reading various poets and writers such as Dante and Jules Laforgue in Paris, Eliot studied Sanskrit and philosophy at Harvard, from 1911 to 1914. He never finished his PhD at Harvard due to World War I – he wrote his whole dissertation but never did the viva voce exam.

In 1922, he published The Waste Land, earning him success and recognition. The Waste Land established him as one of the leading figures and critics of his times. The experience he gathered in France and his study of Sanskrit enabled him to write The Waste Land, in which Eliot with a beautiful usage of words and imagery described the actual state of the World and the effect of the First World War. He went on to cement his position as a literary figure of his generation my influencing the School of New Criticism. His usage of Sanskrit words in his poems opened the doors to post-colonial analysis of hybridity and languages.

The Lost Generation and World War I

Ernest Hemingway

Ezra Pound
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William Faulkner

F. Scott Fitzgerald

T.S. Eliot was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. Furthermore, he received thirteen Honorary Doctorates from some of the most famous universities around the world such as Oxford, Harvard and Sorbonne. Eliot’s poems have been studied, referenced and used by future generations of writers and poets. His works are considered to be part of the canon of English Literature.

T.S. Eliot passed away on January 4, 1965 in London.

A Short Biography

Quotes from Thomas Stearns Eliot

The communication of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.

T. S. Eliot

The Nobel is a ticket to one’s own funeral. No one has ever done anything after he got it.

T. S. Eliot

The most important thing for poets to do is to write as little as possible.

T. S. Eliot

The last thing one discovers in composing a work is what to put first.

T. S. Eliot

The last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason.

T. S. Eliot

Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.

T. S. Eliot

I am an Anglo-Catholic in religion, a classicist in literature and a royalist in politics.

T. S. Eliot

The business of the poet is not to find new emotions, but to use the ordinary ones and, in working them up into poetry, to express feelings which are not in actual emotions at all.

T. S. Eliot

Humankind cannot bear very much reality.

T. S. Eliot

I don’t believe one grows older. I think that what happens early on in life is that at a certain age one stands still and stagnates.

T. S. Eliot

I had seen birth and death but had thought they were different.

T. S. Eliot

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.

T. S. Eliot

I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

T. S. Eliot

If you desire to drain to the dregs the fullest cup of scorn and hatred that a fellow human being can pour out for you, let a young mother hear you call dear baby “it.”

T. S. Eliot

In my beginning is my end.

T. S. Eliot

It is obvious that we can no more explain a passion to a person who has never experienced it than we can explain light to the blind.

T. S. Eliot

It is only in the world of objects that we have time and space and selves.

T. S. Eliot

It’s not wise to violate rules until you know how to observe them.

T. S. Eliot

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

T. S. Eliot

Knowledge is invariably a matter of degree: you cannot put your finger upon even the simplest datum and say this we know.

T. S. Eliot

Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.

T. S. Eliot

The bad poet is usually unconscious where he ought to be conscious, and conscious where he ought to be unconscious.

T. S. Eliot

If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?

T. S. Eliot

Let’s not be narrow, nasty, and negative.

T. S. Eliot

So the lover must struggle for words.

T. S. Eliot

Television is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome.

T. S. Eliot

Poetry may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves.

T. S. Eliot

Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.

T. S. Eliot

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

T. S. Eliot

People to whom nothing has ever happened cannot understand the unimportance of events.

T. S. Eliot

Our high respect for a well read person is praise enough for literature.

T. S. Eliot

Our difficulties of the moment must always be dealt with somehow, but our permanent difficulties are difficulties of every moment.

T. S. Eliot

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.

T. S. Eliot

O Lord, deliver me from the man of excellent intention and impure heart: for the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.

T. S. Eliot

My greatest trouble is getting the curtain up and down.

T. S. Eliot

Poetry should help, not only to refine the language of the time, but to prevent it from changing too rapidly.

T. S. Eliot

There is not a more repulsive spectacle than on old man who will not forsake the world, which has already forsaken him.

T. S. Eliot

Home is where one starts from.

T. S. Eliot

Where there is no temple there shall be no homes.

T. S. Eliot

The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.

T. S. Eliot

Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

T. S. Eliot

The soul is so far from being a monad that we have not only to interpret other souls to ourself but to interpret ourself to ourself.

T. S. Eliot

The tiger springs in the new year. Us he devours.

T. S. Eliot

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

T. S. Eliot

There is no method but to be very intelligent.

T. S. Eliot

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

T. S. Eliot

This love is silent.

T. S. Eliot

Where is all the knowledge we lost with information?

T. S. Eliot

You are the music while the music lasts.

T. S. Eliot

Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm. But the harm does not interest them.

T. S. Eliot

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.

T. S. Eliot

April is the cruellest month.

T. S. Eliot

We know too much, and are convinced of too little. Our literature is a substitute for religion, and so is our religion.

T. S. Eliot

There is no absolute point of view from which real and ideal can be finally separated and labelled.

T. S. Eliot

All significant truths are private truths. As they become public they cease to become truths; they become facts, or at best, part of the public character; or at worst, catchwords.

T. S. Eliot

As things are, and as fundamentally they must always be, poetry is not a career, but a mug’s game. No honest poet can ever feel quite sure of the permanent value of what he has written: He may have wasted his time and messed up his life for nothing.

T. S. Eliot

Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.

T. S. Eliot

A toothache, or a violent passion, is not necessarily diminished by our knowledge of its causes, its character, its importance or insignificance.

T. S. Eliot

And they write innumerable books; being too vain and distracted for silence: seeking every one after his own elevation, and dodging his emptiness.

T. S. Eliot

Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity.

T. S. Eliot

Any poet, if he is to survive beyond his 25th year, must alter; he must seek new literary influences; he will have different emotions to express.

T. S. Eliot

Art never improves, but… the material of art is never quite the same.

T. S. Eliot

Business today consists in persuading crowds.

T. S. Eliot

Every experience is a paradox in that it means to be absolute, and yet is relative; in that it somehow always goes beyond itself and yet never escapes itself.

T. S. Eliot

A play should give you something to think about. When I see a play and understand it the first time, then I know it can’t be much good.

T. S. Eliot

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