Quotes by T. S. Eliot

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Thomas Stearns Eliot, OM (September 26, 1888 - January 4, 1965) was a poet, dramatist and literary critic, whose works, such as The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land, "The Hollow Men", and Four Quartets, are ... more

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

Only by acceptance of the past, can you alter it.
You are the music while the music lasts.
Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people wanting to be important.
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.
Love is most nearly itself when here and now cease to matter.
Success is relative. It is what we can make of the mess we have made of things.
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.
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.
The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason.
In my beginning is my end.
The young feel tired at the end of an action, the old at the beginning.
Where does one go from a world of insanity? Somewhere on the other side of despair.
Hell is oneself, hell is alone, the other figures in it merely projections. There is nothing to escape from and nothing to escape to. One is always alone.
So far as we are human, what we do must be either evil or good: so far as we do evil or good, we are human: and it is better, in a paradoxical way, to do evil than to do nothing: at least we exist.
Our emotions are only incidents in the effort to keep day and night together.
It's not wise to violate rules until you know how to observe them.
Footfalls echo in the memory down the passage which we did not take towards the door we never opened into the rose-garden.
In the room the women come and go talking of Michelangelo.
The years between fifty and seventy are the hardest. You are always being asked to do things, and yet you are not decrepit enough to turn them down.
The dream crossed twilight between birth and dying.
What we know of other people's only our memory of the moments during which we knew them.
If you haven't the strength to impose your own terms upon life, you must accept the terms it offers you.
Humankind cannot bear very much reality.
Friendship should be more than biting time can sever.
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
I suppose some editors are failed writers; but so are most writers.
Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.
A tradition without intelligence is not worth having.
All cases are unique and very similar to others.
Think not forever of yourselves, O Chiefs, nor of your own generation. Think of continuing generations of our families, think of our grandchildren and of those yet unborn, whose faces are coming from beneath the ground.
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.
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 we have personality and emotion know what it means to want to escape from these things.
Time past and time future what might have been and what has been point to one end, which is always present.
April is the cruellest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information.
In a minute there is time for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
Liberty is a different kind of pain from prison.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living, they can tell you, being dead: the communication of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.
It cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labor.
It is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome.
An editor should tell the author his writing is better than it is. Not a lot better, a little better.
For every life and every act consequence of good and evil can be shown and as in time results of many deeds are blended so good and evil in the end become confounded.
Moving between the legs of tables and of chairs, rising or falling, grasping at kisses and toys, advancing boldly, sudden to take alarm, retreating to the corner of arm and knee, eager to be reassured, taking pleasure in the fragrant brilliance of the Christmas tree.
Art never improves, but the material of art is never quite the same.
The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.
For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice.
Birth, copulation and death. That's all the facts when you come to the brass tacks.
When we read of human beings behaving in certain ways, with the approval of the author, who gives his benediction to this behavior by his attitude towards the result of the behavior arranged by himself, we can be influenced towards behaving in the same way.
We are not here to triumph by fighting, by strata gem, or by resistance, not to fight with beasts as men. We have fought the beast and have conquered. We have only to conquer now, by suffering. This is the easier victory.
There is no method but to be very intelligent.
We do not quite say that the new is more valuable because it fits in; but its fitting in is a test of its value -- a test, it is true, which can only be slowly and cautiously applied, for we are none of us infallible judges of conformity.
When a poet's mind is perfectly equipped for its work, it is constantly amalgamating disparate experiences.
We must believe that emotion recollected in tranquillity is an inexact formula. For it is neither emotion, nor recollection, nor without distortion of meaning, tranquillity. It is a concentration, and a new thing resulting from the concentration of a very great number of experiences which to the practical and active person would not seem to be experiences at all; it is a concentration which does not happen consciously or of deliberation. These experiences are not recollected and they finally unite in an atmosphere which is tranquil only in that it is a passive attending upon the event.
It seems just possible that a poem might happen to a very young man: but a poem is not poetry --That is a life.
I take as metaphysical poetry that in which what is ordinarily apprehensible only by thought is brought within the grasp of feeling, or that in which what is ordinarily only felt is transformed into thought without ceasing to be feeling.
Each venture is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate with shabby equipment always deteriorating in the general mess of imprecision of feeling.
People exercise an unconscious selection in being influenced.
The awful daring of a moment's surrender which an age of prudence can never retract.
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.
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be: am an attendant lord, one that will do to swell a progress, start a scene or two, advise the prince.
There are flood and drought over the eyes and in the mouth, dead water and dead sand contending for the upper hand. The parched eviscerate soil gapes at the vanity of toil, laughs without mirth. This is the death of the earth.
We might remind ourselves that criticism is as inevitable as breathing, and that we should be none the worse for articulating what passes in our minds when we read a book and feel an emotion about it, for criticizing our own minds in their work of criticism.
War is not a life: it is a situation, one which may neither be ignored nor accepted.
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter; / I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, / And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, / And in short, I was afraid.
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 / But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Birth, and copulation, and death. I've been born, and once is enough. You dont remember, but I remember, Once is enough.
Midwinter spring is its own season Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown, Suspended in time, between pole and tropic. When the short day is brightest, with frost and fire, The brief sun flames the ice, on pond and ditches, In windless cold that is the heart's heat.