Thomas Stearns Eliot Poems

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Thomas Stearns Eliot
Thomas Stearns Eliot, OM (September 26, 1888 – January 4, 1965), was a poet, dramatist and literary critic. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. He wrote the poems "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", The Waste Land, "The Hollow Men", "Ash Wednesday", and Four Quartets; the plays Murder in the Cathedral and The Cocktail Party; and the essay "Tradition and the Individual Talent". Eliot was born an American, moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 (at the age of 25), and became a British subject in 1927 at the age of 39. Eliot was born into the prominent Eliot family of St. Louis, Missouri. His father, Henry Ware Eliot (1843–1919), was a successful businessman, president and treasurer of the Hydraulic-Press Brick Company in St. Louis; his mother, born Charlotte Champe Stearns (1843–1929), wrote poems and was also a social worker. Eliot was the last of six surviving children; his parents were both 44 years old when he was born. His four sisters were between eleven and nineteen years older than him; his brother was eight years older. Known to family and friends as Tom, he was the namesake of his maternal grandfather, Thomas Stearns. From 1898 to 1905, Eliot was a day student at Smith Academy, a preparatory school for Washington University. At the academy, Eliot studied Latin, Greek, French, and German. Upon graduation, he could have gone to Harvard University, but his parents sent him to Milton Academy (in Milton, Massachusetts, near Boston) for a preparatory year. There he met Scofield Thayer, who would later publish The Waste Land. He studied at Harvard, where he earned a B.A., from 1906 to 1909. The Harvard Advocate published some of his poems, and he became lifelong friends with Conrad Aiken. The next year, he earned a master's degree at Harvard. In the 1910–1911 school year, Eliot lived in Paris, studying at the Sorbonne and touring the continent. Returning to Harvard in 1911 as a doctoral student in philosophy, Eliot studied the writings of F.H. Bradley, Buddhism and Indic philology (learning Sanskrit and Pâli to read some of the religious texts.) He was awarded a scholarship to attend Merton College, Oxford in 1914, and, before settling there, he visited Marburg, Germany, where he planned to take a summer program in philosophy. When the First World War broke out, however, he went to London and then to Oxford. In a letter to Aiken late in December 1914, Eliot, aged 26, wrote "I am very dependent upon women (I mean female society)" and then added a complaint that he was still a virgin. Less than four months later, he was introduced by Thayer, then also at Oxford, to Cambridge governess Vivienne Haigh-Wood (May 28, 1888 – January 22, 1947). Eliot was not happy at Merton and declined a second year there. Instead, on 26 June 1915, he married Vivienne in a register office. After a short visit, alone, to the U. S. to see his family, he returned to London and took a few teaching jobs such as lecturing at Birkbeck College, University of London. He continued to work on his dissertation and, in the spring of 1916, sent it to Harvard, which accepted it. Because he did not appear in person to defend his dissertation, however, he was not awarded his Ph.D. (In 1964, the dissertation was published as Knowledge and Experience in the Philosophy of F. H. Bradley.) During Eliot's university career, he studied with George Santayana, Irving Babbitt, Henri Bergson, C. R. Lanman, Josiah Royce, Bertrand Russell, and Harold Joachim. Bertrand Russell took an interest in Vivien (the spelling she preferred) while the newlyweds stayed in his flat. Some scholars have suggested that Vivien and Russell had an affair (see Carole Seymour-Jones, Painted Shadow), but these allegations have never been confirmed. Eliot, in a private paper, written in his sixties, confessed: "I came to persuade myself that I was in love with Vivienne simply because I wanted to burn my boats and commit myself to staying in England. And she persuaded herself (also under the influence of Pound) that she would save the poet by keeping him in England. To her, the marriage brought no happiness. To me, it brought the state of mind out of which came The Waste Land." A plaque at SOAS's Faber Building, 24 Russell Square commemorating T S Eliot's years at Faber and Faber.After leaving Merton Eliot worked as a school teacher, most notably at Highgate School where he taught the young John Betjeman, and later at the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe. To earn extra money, he wrote book reviews and lectured at evening extension courses. In 1917, he took a position at Lloyds Bank in London, where he worked on foreign accounts. In August 1920, Eliot met James Joyce on a trip to Paris, accompanied by Wyndham Lewis. After the meeting, Eliot said he found Joyce arrogant (Joyce doubted Eliot's ability as a poet at the time), but the two soon became friends with Eliot visiting Joyce whenever he was in Paris. In 1925, Eliot left Lloyds to join the publishing firm of Faber and Gwyer (later Faber and Faber), where he remained for the rest of his career, becoming a director of the firm.

aunt helen
 
 
Miss Helen Slingsby was my maiden aunt,
And lived in a small house near a fashionable square... [read poem]
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