( Information source: Wikipedia)

Thomas Stearns Eliot OM is one of the greatest figures in English Literature. His poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” was a part of my syllabus in MA English Literature. Undoubtedly, he was a wizard with the usage of words. He belongs to the Modernist movement in the English Literature.

He was born on 26 September 1888, St. Louis, Missouri, US. He was a renowned Poet essayist, playwright, publisher  and a  critic.
Elliot’s love for literature grew after he was diagnosed with congenital double inguinal hernia, and could not participate in physical activities with the other boys. He took a liking for books on the savage life, the Wild West, or Mark Twain’s thrill-seeking Tom Sawyer.

He went to Smith Academy, the boys college preparatory division of Washington University, where his studies included Latin, Ancient Greek, French, and German, from 1898 to 1905. He started writing poetry at the age of 14, inspired by Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. He found his work dissatisfactory and destroyed it. He published his first poem “A Fable For Feasters”, in the Smith Academy Record in February 1905. “Birds of Prey”, “A Tale of a Whale” and “The Man Who Was King” were his three short stories published in 1905.

He earned Bachelor of Arts in an elective program from Harvard College from 1906 to 1909, similar to comparative literature in 1909 and a Master of Arts in English literature the following year. Since he had finished a preparatory course from Milton Academy,  he got his Bachelor’s degree in three years instead of four. Eliot was awarded a scholarship to Merton College, Oxford, England, in 1914.
He got the British citizenship(1927–1965) for the later part of his life.

Eliot married Vivienne Haigh-Wood, a Cambridge governess, at Hampstead Register Office on 26 June 1915. Their marriage failed and they got formally separated in 1933. Her brother, Maurice, admitted her in a mental hospital in 1935 and she died in 1947 due to a heart disease.

Eliot’s popular works:
“The Birds of Prey” (a short story; 1905)
“A Tale of a Whale” (a short story; 1905)
“The Man Who Was King” (a short story; 1905)[124]
“The Wine and the Puritans” (review, 1909)
“The Point of View” (1909)
“Gentlemen and Seamen” (1909)
“Egoist” (review, 1909)


“A Fable for Feasters” (1905)

“[A Lyric:]’If Time and Space as Sages say'” (1905)

“[At Graduation 1905]” (1905)

“Song: ‘If space and time, as sages say'” (1907)

“Before Morning” (1908)

“Circe’s Palace” (1908)

“Song: ‘When we came home across the hill'” (1909)

“On a Portrait” (1909)

“Song: ‘The moonflower opens to the moth'” (1909)

“Nocturne” (1909)

“Humoresque” (1910)

“Spleen” (1910)

“[Class] Ode” (1910)

“The Death of Saint Narcissus” (c.1911-15)


Prufrock and Other Observations (1917)

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Portrait of a Lady


Rhapsody on a Windy Night

Morning at the Window

The Boston Evening Transcript (about the Boston Evening Transcript)

Aunt Helen

Cousin Nancy

Mr. Apollinax


Conversation Galante

La Figlia Che Piange

Poems (1920)


Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar

Sweeney Erect

A Cooking Egg

Le Directeur

Mélange Adultère de Tout

Lune de Miel

The Hippopotamus

Dans le Restaurant

Whispers of Immortality

Mr. Eliot’s Sunday Morning Service

Sweeney Among the Nightingales

The Waste Land (1922)

The Hollow Men (1925)

Ariel Poems (1927–1954)

Journey of the Magi (1927)

A Song for Simeon (1928)

Animula (1929)

Marina (1930)

Triumphal March (1931)

The Cultivation of Christmas Trees (1954)

Macavity:The Mystery Cat

Ash Wednesday (1930)

Coriolan (1931)

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (1939)

The Marching Song of the Pollicle Dogs and Billy M’Caw: The Remarkable Parrot (1939) in The Queen’s Book of the Red Cross

Four Quartets (1945)

Sweeney Agonistes (published in 1926, first performed in 1934)

The Rock (1934)

Murder in the Cathedral (1935)

The Family Reunion (1939)

The Cocktail Party (1949)

The Confidential Clerk (1953)

The Elder Statesman (first performed in 1958, published in 1959)


Christianity & Culture (1939, 1948)

The Second-Order Mind (1920)

Tradition and the Individual Talent (1920)

The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism (1920)

“Hamlet and His Problems”

Homage to John Dryden (1924)

Shakespeare and the Stoicism of Seneca (1928)

For Lancelot Andrewes (1928)

Dante (1929)

Selected Essays, 1917-1932 (1932)

The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism (1933)

After Strange Gods (1934)

Elizabethan Essays (1934)

Essays Ancient and Modern (1936)

The Idea of a Christian Society (1939)

A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (1941) made by Eliot, with an essay on Rudyard Kipling

Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (1948)
Poetry and Drama (1951)

The Three Voices of Poetry (1954)

The Frontiers of Criticism (1956)

On Poetry and Poets (1943)

Posthumous publications

To Criticize the Critic (1965)

Poems Written in Early Youth (1967)

The Waste Land: Facsimile Edition (1974)

Inventions of the March Hare: Poems 1909–1917 (1996)

He won a Nobel Prize in Literature (1948) and was conferred with the Order of Merit in the same year. He passed away on 4 January 1965 (aged 76), London, England. His significant contribution to the world of English Literature will never be forgot.

Eliot’ s poem:

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (

 S'io credesse che mia risposta fosse
 A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
 Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
 Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
 Non torno vivo alcun, s'i'odo il vero,
 Senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo.

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.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

      . . . . .

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? …

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

      . . . . .

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep… tired… or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
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.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”

      . . . . .

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; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old… I grow old…
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

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