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Complete Poems and Plays: 1909-1950 by T. S.…

Complete Poems and Plays: 1909-1950 (original 1952; edition 1952)

by T. S. Eliot (Author)

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1,937103,530 (4.43)11
Title:Complete Poems and Plays: 1909-1950
Authors:T. S. Eliot (Author)
Info:Harcourt (1952), Hardcover
Collections:Literature, Your library, Books, Have Read, Poetry
Tags:literature, american_literature, english_literature, poetry, 20th_century

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The Complete Poems and Plays by T. S. Eliot (1952)


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“I will show you fear in a handful of dust,” T.S. Eliot proclaims in his most quotable poem The Waste Lands. Each line groans under the sheer weight of mortality, despair in the face of the inevitable. But rather than propagate that despair, Eliot’s beauty is in his ability to spawn introspection with the dark plight of the subjects in his poems, to evoke abandon as a counter the inescapable.

As a complete volume, Eliot’s most famous are collected - The Waste Lands and The Love Sond of J. Alfred Prufrock - along with some of his lesser known works. Among those lesser known are Four Quartets, free form tone poems that are equally as evocative as anything he ever wrote.

From Burnt Norton:
“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.”

A look at almost any literary journal or publication will provide evidence that Eliot was perhaps the most influential modernist poet, establishing a voice that has survived through multiple generations and still inspires replication. Few poets, or writers of any kind, can create the same sense of urgency in life with their work. Reading Eliot is like glimpsing fate in a mirror’s darkened reflection; it demands attention and quickens the heart to action.

Also collected in the volume is Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Adapted after his death into the Broadway mega-hit Cats, the original work has been all but lost in the bright lights. The fourteen short poems, each deconstructing a different feline personality, are wonders of word play. Short of some of the master fantasy writers, Eliot is unrivaled in his ability to create words and phrases to capture feeling. And the lyrical, whimsical cheekiness of the works display a far different aspect of the writer’s personality; the light to the darker work.

Though Eliot’s plays are also collected here, I read the volume for the poetry only, leaving the plays for a different time. The poetry alone is a lifetime study.

Bottom Line: A complete collection of Eliot’s poetry, the famous and not-so-famous; all provocative and surprising with each reading.

5 bones!!!!! ( )
4 vote blackdogbooks | Apr 26, 2015 |
Last part of the Hollow Men:

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
( )
  JuliaBoechat | Mar 30, 2013 |
Rated: B+
The New Lifetime Reading Plan: Number 116

I love T. S. Elliot. You have to understand British culture and London life of the 1900's to appreciate some of his works. But his words, his twist of a phrase are memorable.

I re-read this book almost 24 years after my first reading. Old the old favorites still rang true but I enjoy his plays more this time. His classic poems (Prufrock, The Wasteland, The Hollow Men) have great lines and imagery. I was drawn to "Choruses from 'The Rock'" now more than before.

Perhaps his most fun work, made famous by Andrew Lloyd Webber, are his collection of poems "Old Possum's Book fo Practical Cats" on which the musical "Cats" was based. ( )
  jmcdbooks | Jan 28, 2013 |
If you have read only the Wasteland or Prufrock, you might not realize that Eliot converted to Christianity and wrote more poetry that the general public didn't understand. This book contains all of his poetry and plays.
  mebrock | May 24, 2012 |
Best to read Eliot's poetry several times over a leisurely timeframe. Meaning arises only after the piece is somewhat familiar, the first few encounters establish mood & setting, and perhaps voice. Allow these elements to coalesce of themselves, initially enjoy the cadence and phrasing, maybe tease out his allusions.

Daniel Schwarz writes that Eliot sees verse as "the means of working out his most compelling personal dilemmas", but also "a way of putting it" for an audience. Even before reading this take (and it is but one opinion), Eliot's verse didn't seem pretentious so much as careful: he is writing for himself, worrying at something personally significant, important to put down properly. Unsurprising that so much of it isn't immediately apparent to me or anyone else.

The poems almost all employ quotation or an epigraph in Greek, Latin, French; several of his early poems are entirely in French. There are no translations, and in several cases no indication of the source being quoted. Yet many of his poems are a pleasure even when inscrutable: I'm immediately drawn to "Prufrock" or The Waste Land, for example, even though I'm hardpressed to discern even partial meaning from them on first or second reading, and some like "Gerontion" are stubbornly opaque and lack the shape or wordfeel to reward me on those merits alone.

As difficult as these poems are, they've entered the culture and literature, music, other poetry. I recognise lines first encountered elsewhere, and that is a primary aspect of my appreciation. Eldritch is detectable in several places, lifting lines & phrases, and I wonder now if his approach (personal meanings nested in songs meant for a listening public, crafting new pieces built around allusions) is modeled deliberately after Eliot.

This edition has no commentary save Eliot's notes to The Waste Land (at publisher request to add pages, later rued by Eliot). Worth reading commentary on specific poems and revisiting regularly.


2012 reading of verse, omitting the plays (which apparently are written as dramatic verse). Paired with the Wagner-Martin critical anthology. Look into Eliot's essays, perhaps starting with The Sacred Wood. ( )
1 vote elenchus | Feb 3, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Early in her novel Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor describes protagonist Hazel Motes, leader of the Church without Christ, by the silhouette he casts on the sidewalk. “Haze’s shadow,” she writes, “was now behind him and now before him.” It’s a strange way to situate a character — skulking between his shadows — but it’s not unprecedented. In The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot’s narrator refers to “Your shadow at morning striding behind you/Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you.” Coincidence? Nobody can say for certain. But in the rare case of a critic linking O’Connor and Eliot, Sally Fitzgerald (O’Connor’s close friend) wrote that “it was Eliot and his Waste Land who provided for her the first impetus to write such a book as Wise Blood.”
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Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
We are the hollow men, the stuffed men
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 015121185X, Hardcover)

Eliot's poetry ranges from the massively magisterial ( The Waste Land), to the playfully pleasant ( Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats). This volume of Eliot's poetry and plays offers the complete text of these and most all of Eliot's poetry, including the full text of Four Quartets. Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Eliot exerted a profound influence on his contemporaries in the arts generally and this collection makes his genius clear.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:27 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A collection of poems and plays by this prominent British writer who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1948.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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